Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Missing in Action

There was a notable absence from President-elect Obama’s news conference Thursday announcing Virginia Governor Tim Kaine as the new Democratic National Committee chairman. Outgoing party leader Howard Dean was nowhere to be seen. The Politico newspaper reports Dr. Dean was 7,000 miles away in American Samoa. And sources say his absence was by design.

A Dean ally is quoted saying, "the snub today was no accident. I guarantee you he would have rescheduled his trip if asked to attend. It’s easy to screw over people when you are riding high in the polls, let's see how many people are singing his (Obama’s) praises in six months."

Despite leading his party to consecutive triumphant election cycles, Dean has been passed over for a Cabinet position he wanted and in the view of some, kicked to the curb. According to Politico, another top Democrat said “I have tried my best... to ask if he ever committed some crime. I don't get it. He’s been a good soldier."

Dream Ticket

The public transportation system here in Washington is selling tickets that bear the image of President-elect Obama.

The Metro began issuing the new fare cards two weeks ago to celebrate the inauguration. Cybercast News reports the only other president to be honored with a Metro card was Bill Clinton in 1993.

A Metro spokeswoman says the inaugurations of President Bush did not generate enough positive public attention.

"It's just very special major events that we anticipate a large public interest in."

Among those deemed special enough, the opening of the Washington Nationals baseball stadium last March and the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in April.

Paper Trail

Minnesota's Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison became the first U.S. representative to make the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in December. But one terrorism expert says the group that paid for the trip has ties to Islamic extremism. Steve Emerson says the parent organization of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota is "the Muslim equivalent of the neo-Nazi party... the agenda of the M.A.S. is to... undermine U.S. counterterrorism policy."

The group was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Radical members of the Brotherhood founded the terror group Hamas and were among the first members of Al Qaeda. But Ellison's office defends the group saying, “The Muslim American Society of Minnesota is a widely respected organization... whose mission is to promote interfaith understanding."

Catfish Craze

And finally, the animal rights group — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or – PETA has launched what may be its most bizarre campaign yet. PETA wants to rename fish, "sea kittens." It hopes the change will make people less likely to order seafood.

"When your name can also be used as a verb that means driving a hook through your head, it's time for a serious image makeover... would people think twice about ordering fish sticks if they were called sea kitten sticks?"

One contributor to the conservative American Thinker blog writes, "As a cat lover, allow me to protest this monumental insult to kitties. Fish are stupid, slimy, ugly creatures who I happen to think look good only when filleted, dipped in butter sauce and sprinkled with lemon juice."

— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.