Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Dean’s Hot Rhetoric
Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean is vowing to keep up his hot rhetoric, insisting, "We are going to be much tougher and in-your-face with the Republicans when they say things that aren't true." At a party fundraiser in Boston last night, he also said he was delighted by recent criticism from Vice President Dick Cheney, saying, "I think it's great that [he] went after me. At least they know there's a Democratic Party that's not going to put up with this stuff anymore."
Dean, by the way, will be introduced at a party fundraiser in Washington Tuesday night, by none other than Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin.
Windy City Worries?
Speaking of Durbin, his apology for those controversial comments on Guantanamo Bay came after he was urged to do it by his fellow Illinois Democrat, and one of the most potent politicians in his home state, Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago. Daley said evoking comparisons to the horrors of the Holocaust, the Russian Gulags, and the Khmer Rouge was just wrong. And, Daley said, "It's a disgrace" to accuse U.S. military men and women of such conduct.
Lawyers Gave the Go-Ahead?
The Seattle-based law firm Preston Gates & Ellis, whose former star lobbyist Jack Abramoff arranged and, in some cases, paid for overseas travel for embattled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay — says such transactions got the go-ahead from House ethics lawyers years before.
Internal memos and e-mails, cited by The New York Times, say that when the firm began organizing large numbers of congressional trips in 1996, it contacted two lawyers with the House ethics committee, who told them House rules probably allowed lobbyists to pay for a lawmaker's travel, as long as a client promptly reimbursed the firm. Earlier today Delay said that "just proves what we have been saying," insisting, "we adhere to the House rules."
Debate Halted for 45 Minutes
House debate on a Democratic amendment to fight aggressive religious proselytizing, connected to a defense appropriations bill, was halted for 45 minutes last night. This after Democrats demanded Indiana Republican John Hostettler be censured for saying Democrats "can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians."
Wisconsin Democrat David Obey, who introduced the amendment, then insisted Hostettler's "outburst ... is perhaps the perfect example of why we need ... my amendment." Eventually, Hostettler withdrew his comments from the record and the amendment was defeated.
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report