Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Gate Crasher

Barack Obama is looking into giving a campaign speech at Germany's historic Brandenburg Gate. The Berlin monument was the backdrop for speeches supporting German freedom by Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton. But all three were already president.

Thomas Steg, spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, says she has voiced "great skepticism as to whether it is appropriate to bring an election campaign being fought not in Germany — but in the United States — to the Brandenburg Gate."

"No German chancellor candidate would think of using Washington's National Mall or Red Square in Moscow for rallies, because it would be considered inappropriate."

But the spokesman says permission to use the venue is not a matter for Chancellor Merkel, but for Berlin city authorities.

Red Flags

A North Carolina Department of Agriculture employee is out of a job after defying an order by Governor Mike Easley that all flags at state buildings be flown at half-staff to honor the life of the late former Senator Jesse Helms.

The Charlotte Observer reports that L.F. Eason III, who had worked for the department since graduating from college 29 years ago, instructed his lab staff on Monday not to lower the U.S. or state flags. Eason said honoring Helms would be inappropriate because of what he called Helms' "doctrine of negative, hate and prejudice."

But some of the other employees — and even Eason's wife — argued that the flags were state property and he should lower them as ordered. When Eason refused, the 51-year-old was told by his superiors that his only other option would be to retire effective immediately.

Reap What You Sow

The rise in greenhouse gases may be troubling for scientists and some world leaders, but not for plant life.

The French Press Agency reports that a group of German scientists has found that increasing exposure to carbon dioxide can actually boost crop growth.

Researchers at the Johann Heinrich von Thunen Institute spray plants with carbon dioxide jets so that the air around the plants is equivalent to with what some scientists predict will be the level of CO2 in the atmosphere by the year 2050.

Hans-Joachim Wiegel, one of the researchers, said that by spraying the plants "output increased by 10 percent for barley, beets and wheat."

Bon Voyage!

And finally, a new survey has revealed that it is not the so-called "loud and ugly American" who ranked highest on a recent list of obnoxious travelers. Instead, it is the French who are considered the most rude among people from Western nations.

The German broadcasting company Deutcshe Welle reports the survey conducted by the French Expedia Web site polled employees at 4,000 hotels across Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

As it turns out, the French are often unwilling to communicate in a foreign language, pinch pennies and do not tip well, and tend to be impolite and complain a lot.

Americans were the 11th most-liked tourists out of a total of 21 nationalities. And Japanese tourists were ranked the most-liked of all.

FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy 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