Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Pennsylvania Democratic congressman John Murtha says an ethics and lobbying reform bill supported by soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is "total crap" — but he'll support it anyway. It happened inside a meeting where Murtha and his rival for majority leader — Steny Hoyer — made their pitches to the Blue Dog Coalition — a group of moderate Democrats.
One lawmaker told "roll call" that Murtha's performance at the meeting was "stunningly awful." Murtha's bid for majority leader has been attacked by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — which named him among the top 25 "Most Corrupt Members of Congress."
Murtha was named an "un-indicted co-conspirator" in the 1980 ABSCAM bribery scandal — and both his brother and a former senior staff member are lobbyists.
New York Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel says there is "no excuse" for his comment last week that "who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?" Rangel — who in the next Congress will chair the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee — was talking about the fact that Mississippi gets what he called "more than their fare share back in federal money."
The good folks in Mississippi were understandably upset — so Rangel has issued a statement saying take "I'm afraid that my love and affection for New York got in the way of my common sense and judgment, and for that I sincerely apologize."
New York's Charles Schumer says the greatest failure of Senate Democrats was allowing conservative Samuel Alito to join the Supreme Court — and he'll make sure it doesn't happen again. Schumer tells The New York Observer that "judges are the most important. One more justice would have made it a five-four conservative, hard-right majority for a long time. That won't happen."
Schumer of course is on the Senate Judiciary Committee — which the Democrats will soon control.
And the English-language version of the Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera — called Al-Jazeera International — debuted today — but almost no one in the U.S. can see it. None of the major cable or satellite providers is offering it — although the station says negotiations are ongoing. The channel is streaming live on the Internet — and it is widely distributed in some European countries and even Israel.
Al-Jazeera has a reputation of being anti-West and anti-American — which it says is unfair — but the network is banned from operating in four Arab nations.
—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.