Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
State of Play
The arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has put the spotlight back on Chicago’s machine-style politics and history of corruption. But by one standard, Illinois is not even close to being the nation's most corrupt state. U.S.A. Today reports an analysis of Justice Department statistics reveals Illinois — on a per capita basis — ranks 18th in the number of federal corruption convictions from 1998 to 2007.
North Dakota is number one with more than eight convictions per 100,000 people. Rounding out the top five are Louisiana, Alaska, Mississippi and Montana.
But Don Morrison of the North Dakota Center for Public Good says people there are just better at rooting out corruption. “Being a sparsely populated state, people know each other...to do what the governor of Illinois did is much more difficult here."
A Maryland company that cleaned the home of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff for about three years allegedly employed illegal aliens. The Washington Post reports at least five of those workers were undocumented even though the Secret Service routinely screened employee ID's. The company's owner James Reid has been fined more than $22,000. But he says that is excessive.
Reid says, "Our homeland security can't police their own home. How can they police our borders? No one wants to put the blame on the head; they'd rather put the blame on the business owner."
Chertoff fired Reid's company when he learned of the situation in April.
An Oklahoma state lawmaker is proposing legislation requiring anyone running for public office in that state to show proof of citizenship. The Oklahoman newspaper reports Republican state Senator Mike Ritz is motivated by questions surrounding President-elect Obama’s citizenship.
Candidates would have to submit a copy of their birth certificate and some form of government-issued identification. No I.D. is currently required to file with the state's election board, although candidates must sign an affidavit stating they are registered voters. Oklahoma’s Democratic Party Chairman Ivan Holmes says the move appears to be “another typical Republican ploy of sour grapes."
The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a challenge to Mr. Obama's electoral eligibility. More challenges, however, are still pending.
Away in a Manger
And finally, you may remember the campaign ad calling then Senator Obama "the chosen one." Well now President-elect Obama and wife Michelle are apparently being "chosen" to appear in a very familiar religious scene — the Nativity — alongside Baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Joseph and the Three Wise Men.
In the city of Naples, Italy — the production of handmade figurines is big business. Craftsmen traditionally provide a light-hearted approach — by making replicas of the year's newsmakers.
"The ones we are selling the most of are those of barrack Obama... along with his wife Michelle," says an Italian Nativity scene craftsman.
Other popular Nativity figurines this year are French President Nicolas Sarkozy, his wife Carla Bruni and Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. No word from the Obama transition office about any reaction from the incoming First Couple about being included.
— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.