Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Race Against Time

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean says the longer his party goes without a presidential nominee, the worse off it will be.

Dean told a New York TV station, "The idea that we can afford to have a big fight at the convention and then win the race in the next eight weeks, I think, is not a good scenario… I think we will have a nominee sometime in the middle of March or April. But if we don't, then we're going to have to get the candidates together and make some kind of an arrangement."

Dean did not specify what kind of arrangement he was referring to. Such arrangements are what the political conventions used to be all about.

No Show

Republican frontrunner John McCain missed Wednesday's Senate vote on the proposed economic stimulus package. It was not clear which way McCain would vote on a Democratic plan to provide rebate checks for seniors and disabled veterans or whether he would even try. A "no" vote would have offended seniors and veterans. A "yes" vote would have further alienated conservatives and Republican leaders.

Before the vote McCain said, "I haven't had a chance to talk about it at all, have not had the opportunity to, even... We've just been too busy, focused on other stuff. I don't know if I'm doing that. We've got a couple of meetings scheduled."

In the end, Republicans blocked the measure and McCain's vote would not have changed the outcome. A final package was approved Thursday.

Blame Game

2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry is blaming global warming for the tornadoes that ripped through the south this week, killing at least 57 people.

Kerry told MSNBC, "The weather service has told us we are going to have more and more intense storms... related to the warming of the earth. And so it goes to global warming and larger issues that we're not paying attention to."

But at least one National Weather Center meteorologist disagrees. Roger Edwards writes, "No scientific studies solidly relate climatic global temperature trends to tornadoes... tornadoes are too small, short-lived, hard to measure and count, and too dependent on day to day, even minute to minute weather conditions."

Separation of Church and Game

Republican Senator Arlen Specter wants you to be able to have a Super Bowl party with big-screen TVs at your church next year. The Washington Post reports Specter has introduced legislation giving churches exemptions from the National Football League's enforcement of its copyright restrictions for the game.

The league has threatened legal action against churches in the past, even though it allows sports bars and casinos to show the game on screens larger than its 55-inch limit that is being enforced against churches.

North Carolina congressman and former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler is introducing a measure similar to Specter's in the House. An NFL spokesman says the league is reviewing the legislation.

FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.

With more than 35 years of journalism experience to draw from, Brit Hume currently serves as a senior political analyst for FOX News Channel (FNC) and contributes to all major political coverage. Hume also is regular panelist on FOX's weekly public affairs program, "FOX News Sunday" on Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET. Click here for more information on Brit Hume