Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Going Gaga

On his upcoming overseas trip, Barack Obama will be met along the way by the anchors of the three network evening newscasts. About 200 other journalists have also asked to join Obama during his trip.

But Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post reports that John McCain has taken three foreign trips in the past four months — all unaccompanied by a single network anchor and with little fanfare.
The Tyndall Report, which monitors news coverage, says that since June the nightly newscasts on the three networks spent a combined 114 minutes covering Obama while devoting just 48 minutes to McCain.

Blame Game

Senator Obama is blaming the news media — and especially FOX News — for Michelle Obama's high negative ratings. Just under 30 percent of those polled had an unfavorable view of Michelle Obama in our last FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll. A Rasmussen Reports poll last month put her unfavorable rating at 42 percent.

Obama tells Glamour magazine that political spouses should be off-limits. He says the "conservative press — FOX News... went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way... spouses are civilians. They didn't sign up for this."

Though Obama failed to mention it, his wife has made a number of official campaign stops with him and has even campaigned for him on her own.

Obama then added, "If you start being subjected to rants by Sean Hannity and the like, day in day out, that'll drive up your negatives."

Do It Yourself

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel is calling for an ethics investigation of himself.

Rangel says he wants to clear his name after The Washington Post reported he wrote fund-raising appeals on congressional letterhead. Rangel allegedly was seeking donations to help construct a building to be named after him at City College of New York.

But Rangel contends that he did not ask for donations and has not violated any rules. He says that if no one else will call for an investigation — he will: "I want the story out... I challenge The Post to find one line where there's a solicitation of funds."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she supports Congressman Rangel's request.

Lavatory Liquidation

The city of Seattle is selling its five high-end automated public toilets on eBay after the porta-potties became so filthy that even homeless drug abusers refused to use them.

The New York Times reports that while the starting bid for the toilets is $89,000 apiece, the city stands to lose considerably after officials spent one million taxpayer dollars on each unit. The restrooms were installed in early 2004. The facilities have doors that open and close at the touch of a button and can disinfect and clean themselves.

Seattle officials say the project failed because the toilets were placed in neighborhoods that already had drug users and transients. A homeless woman said, "I used to smoke crack in there. But I won't even go inside that thing now. It's disgusting."

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