Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
It appears that while Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska is trying to fend off federal corruption charges and save his seat, his ability to get earmarks has not been diminished. The Hill newspaper reports Stevens secured the most earmarks in the Senate Defense Appropriations Bill — about $215 million worth.
The longest-serving Republican senator has pleaded not guilty to charges of failing to disclose gifts from an oil services company. His trial begins next week. Stevens is hoping to clear his name before he faces Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich in the November election.
Some Democratic lawmakers are taking Republicans to task for the current economic climate, saying the repeal of part of the Glass-Steagall Act under a Republican Congress in 1999 is to blame. The Glass-Steagall Act was a depression-era law that, among other things, separated commercial and investment banking, but by the 1990s, those were seen as unduly burdensome regulations in a modern economy.
Former Republican Senator Phil Gramm sponsored a law that opened competition among commercial and investment banks as well as brokerage firms. Senator Harry Reid, Wednesday, took a shot at Gramm, who is now a McCain economic adviser. Reid says, "This is the same Phil Gramm who pushed through the legislation that... now allows Wall Street traders to bid up the price of oil without oversight."
What Reid fails to mention is that he — and 37 other Democratic senators — voted in favor of the final version of Gramm's bill to overturn much of Glass-Steagall. It passed by a 90-to-8 margin in 1999 and was signed into law by President Clinton.
Change of Plans
Senator Hillary Clinton has canceled an appearance at a planned protest of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York next week because Sarah Palin has also been asked to attend. Clinton officials say they were blindsided by the news that organizers had also invited the Republican vice presidential nominee.
Spokesman Philippe Reines says, "Her attendance was news to us, and this was never billed to us as a partisan political event." McCain campaign spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt countered, "Governor Palin believes that the danger of a nuclear Iran is greater than party or politics. She hopes that all parties can rally together in opposition to this grave threat."
Several Jewish groups are organizing the rally one day before Ahmadinejad's planned speech to the U.N. General Assembly.
What's in a Name?
Few countries have embraced Obama-mania as enthusiastically as Brazil. The Guardian newspaper reports at least six politicians in the South American nation have officially changed their names to Barack Obama in a bid to get an edge over their rivals in October's municipal elections.
Candidates such as Claudio Henrique dos Anjos, who is on the ballot as Barack Obama, are taking advantage of a Brazilian law allowing politicians to run under the name of their choice. Dos Anjos says, "I'd been on television wearing a suit and people thought I looked a bit like him so they started calling me Barack Obama... so I decided to register it."
— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.