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Special Report

Is Obama the Divider-In-Chief?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Polls Apart

The gap between Democrats and Republicans who say President Obama is succeeding is wider than it has been for any modern president in the first few months on the job.

A Pew Research poll indicates 88 percent of Democrats approve of the president's job performance, while just 27 percent of Republicans say the same thing. That's a 61-point difference.

The gap for President George W. Bush at a similar juncture was 51 points. It was 45 for Bill Clinton — 38 for the first President Bush — and 46 for Ronald Reagan.

Gag Order

Before today's deadly earthquake in central Italy, authorities muzzled a scientist who warned of impending disaster. Seismologist Gioacchino Giuliani based his fears on large pockets of radon gas in seismically active areas.

he drove around the region in a van with loudspeakers last month telling people to evacuate. He was reported to police for spreading alarm, and forced to remove his findings from the Internet.

Italy's Civil Protection Agency dismissed the warnings, saying the tremors were: "part of a typical sequence... (which is) absolutely normal."

Giuliani now tells our sister network Sky News: "These people will have these deaths on their conscience."

Cracking Down?

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is upset over what he calls slanderous reporting by Italian media. The London telegraph quotes him as saying, "I don't want to say that I'm calling for direct and tough actions towards certain newspapers and members of the press. But frankly I'm tempted."

Italian media reported Berlusconi snubbed German Chancellor Angela Merkel Saturday by talking on his cell phone as NATO leaders gathered for a photo. Berlusconi later explained he was brokering a deal to minimize Turkish objections to the elevation of the Danish prime minister to NATO secretary-general.

Reports also depicted Berlusconi as loudly shouting a greeting at the start of the G20 summit in London, earning him a rebuke from the queen of England who turned around to ask: "Why does he have to shout?"

The president of the Italian Journalists' Union, Roberto Natale, says Berlusconi's threat against the media are "words of an unprecedented seriousness."

Dirty Truth

And a new environmental law in Washington state is turning some law-abiding citizens into smugglers. Spokane County is trying to reduce pollution by cracking down on dishwater detergents made with phosphates.

But residents say the eco-friendly soaps just don't cut the mustard, or the grease. So they are buying phosphate-based detergents in Idaho and bringing them back to Washington. Patti Marcotte says, "I'm taking my chances because dirty dishes — I cannot live with."

Steve Marcy, a store managers in Idaho say detergent sales are up: "I'll joke with them and ask if they are from Spokane. They say 'oh yeah.'"

Similar bans are set to become law in 11 more states by the end of next year, and four others are considering them.

— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.