Did Bush Change Mind on Singing of National Anthem?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Capitol Crimes

A Kentucky businessman at the center of a federal probe into Democrat William Jefferson pleaded guilty today to bribing the Louisiana congressman and has agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

Vernon Jackson, CEO of the technology firm iGate Inc., says the senior House Ways and Means Committee member demanded that he pay roughly $360,000 to a company controlled by Jefferson's wife in exchange for Jefferson's help securing contracts in Africa. Jackson faces between seven and nine years in prison. Jefferson, meanwhile, has not been charged and continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Language Barrier

A hip-hop Spanish language version of the "Star-Spangled Banner" released last week prompted President Bush to say that the national anthem "ought to be sung in English," but he may not have always felt that way.

Media reports from the president's 2001 inauguration note that Latin singer Jon Secada performed two versions of the song — one in English and one in Spanish. And "American Dynasty" author Kevin Phillips claims that the anthem was performed in Spanish during campaign stops at largely Hispanic locations in 2000, writing that the president would sometimes join in.

Paying at the Polls

Voters in the Washington suburb of Herndon, Virginia, on Tuesday, ousted the mayor and two town council members who had supported a publicly funded day-labor center for immigrant workers.

The incumbent council members voted last August to use tax dollars to establish the center and were immediately beset by criticism and lawsuits from groups such as the Minutemen Project and Judicial Watch, who complained that the center benefits illegal immigrants.

Herndon's newly elected officials are calling for significant changes to the center, while the former mayor has cautioned the newcomers to reunite the town, telling The Washington Post: "The fallout for Herndon could be devastating if they don't handle this well."

Repetitive Ruminations

Regular readers of New York Times columnist Bob Herbert may have noticed that he sounds a lot like, well, Bob Herbert.

Dallas Morning News contributor Nancy Kruh notes that since the invasion of Iraq, the anti-war columnist bemoaned the lack of an "exit strategy," eight times, ripped the president's "Top Gun Moment" aboard an air craft carrier eight more, used the phrase, "mushroom cloud," six times, and accused administration officials of being out of step with "reality," ten times.

What's more, Kruh points out a paragraph from a July 2005 column blasting the president for joking about the failure to locate weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that reappears word for word in a column published six months later.