Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
On the Defensive
Democratic Senators Kent Conrad and Chris Dodd are again denying reports they knew they were getting special treatment on mortgage deals from Countrywide Financial. We reported last November that former Countrywide loan officer Robert Feinberg, who handled those mortgages, said his clients were fully aware they were getting special treatment.
Now Feinberg has told Congress in closed testimony that Conrad, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, and Dodd, who heads the banking committee, knew from the start they were getting VIP discounts. Congressional ethics rules bar lawmakers from benefits not available to the public.
Both senators were reportedly VIP borrowers in a program known as "Friends of Angelo," named after countrywide then-CEO Angelo Mozilo.
A Conrad spokesman, Christopher Gaddie, tells Politico: "Senator Conrad never asked for — expected — or was aware of loans on any preferential terms." And a Dodd spokesman, Bryan DeAngelis, says the senator and his wife, "were never offered special or sweetheart deals and if anyone had made such an offer — they would have severed that relationship immediately."
Now it is up to the Senate Ethics Committee and it's Chairwoman Senator Barbara Boxer to determine where this investigation goes from here.
Not Buying It
The Associated Press is not buying the president's claim that the federal stimulus has created 150,000 jobs. In a piece called "'Help Wanted' Counting Stimulus Jobs," by Ryan Kost, the AP says the 150,000 figure is "a number based on a misused formula and which is so murky it can't be verified."
The article says a number of states are spending millions to supplement the federal stimulus. Oregon has laid out $176 million and Democrats there say more than 3,200 jobs have been created.
But the AP reports the program created the equivalent of only 215 full-time positions that will last three months. It says the rest of those 3,200, "lasted on average only 35 hours — or about one work week. After that, those workers were effectively back unemployed."
And a Louisiana man who tried to book himself a room at a Baton Rouge hotel early Sunday actually knocked on the front door of a state trooper station. The problem was Mitchell Deslatte allegedly drove to the station while under the influence of alcohol.
A local TV station reports that after troopers buzzed him in, Deslatte asked the cop at the front desk if he was in a hotel. The troopers reportedly realized he was drunk, and promptly booked him for DWI. It wasn't Motel 6, it was Trooper Station A.
— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.
Bret Baier is the Chief Political Anchor of Fox News Channel, and the Anchor & Executive Editor of "Special Report with Bret Baier.” His book, "Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission," (William Morrow) is on sale now.