Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Average Joe

Time Magazine writes that one of the few things that could derail the Barack Obama campaign is his running mate, so it says the campaign is "hidin' Biden."

Karen Tumulty compares traveling with Joe Biden to "reporting on a politician packaged in shrink-wrap" and that he is "leashed to a teleprompter even when he is talking in a high school gym that is three-quarters empty."

Tumulty says the campaign is so cautious that when she requested an interview, a spokesman said Biden was suffering from a cold that made interviews difficult.

Tumulty added, "I didn't glean evidence of any symptoms during the four speeches that I watched him give over two days."

Playing Favorites?

An al Qaeda leader is making his feelings known ahead of Tuesday's general election here.

While he did not endorse either party, Abu Yahya al Libi, says in a video posted on the Internet, "O God, humiliate Bush and his party, O Lord of the worlds, degrade and defy him."

Al Libi is said to be living in Afghanistan or Pakistan. He also equates President Bush to past tyrants in history.

His reference to the election is the first this season from a leading al Qaeda figure.

Plumbing the Depths

Background checks using state computers on Samuel Wurzelbacher — better known as "Joe the plumber" — by state employees in Ohio are more extensive than previously thought.

The Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency is investigating an employee who allegedly accessed Wurzelbacher's driver's license and vehicle registration information.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the director of Ohio's Department of Job and Family Services says her agency also accessed Wurzelbacher's information to see if he was receiving welfare assistance or owed taxes.

Helen Jones-Kelley says, "When a person behind in child support payments or receiving public assistance... appears to have available financial resources, the department risks justifiable criticism if it fails to take note and respond."

But Wurzelbacher says he is not involved in any child support case, and there is no evidence that he owes taxes.

Jones-Kelly called the checks "well-meaning" and insisted there is no connection between them and her support for Senator Obama.

The Ohio inspector general is investigating.

Jumping Ship?

The McCain campaign's Connecticut co-chairman has serious doubts about his own candidate.

Republican Congressman Chris Shays tells the Yale Daily News, "I just don't see how he — McCain — can win... he has lost his brand as a maverick — he did not live up to his pledge to fight a clean campaign."

And Shays says the mudslinging goes both ways. "Obama has four-times the amount of money McCain has, so for every negative ad he runs he can balance it with an upbeat one. McCain ... has been nearly 100 percent negative."

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