Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Bringing Home the Bacon
Earlier we told you the omnibus federal spending bill includes $6.6 billion in earmarks. While Barack Obama has vowed to reduce the practice, his running mate Joe Biden has secured more than $51 million worth of special projects for his home state of Delaware.
The earmarks are mostly military related and include $28 million for an Army aviation support facility, $19 million for a physical fitness center at Dover Air Force Base and $11 million for C-130 maintenance.
John McCain does not do earmarks, and Obama requested none this year in keeping with his promise. But the group Taxpayers for Common Sense says Obama has asked for $860 million in earmarks since joining the Senate just three years ago.
Embattled Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska got more than $238 million in special projects. That makes him top earmark dog. The big winner in the House is Democratic Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania who secured more than $111 million in pet projects.
On the Docket
Meanwhile, a Marine veteran is suing Murtha for slander. In May of 2006 — six months after 24 Iraqis were killed in the Iraqi town of Haditha — Murtha said in an interview that American soldiers killed innocent women and children in "cold blood."
Former Lance Corporal Justin Sharratt was initially charged with premeditated murder. He claims Murtha's comments damaged his reputation and violated his constitutional rights to due process and presumption of innocence. He says he has received hate mail and been called a "baby killer" in public.
Sharratt has since been exonerated after a full investigation and honorably discharged. The other Marines and officers involved in the incident have either been acquitted or had their charges dropped except one whose case is pending.
A Host of Problems
CBS executives were left red-faced Thursday trying to explain late night host David Letterman's use of behind the scenes footage of John McCain to embarrass the presidential nominee. McCain canceled his appearance on Letterman's show Wednesday, saying he had to return to Washington to help with the economic bailout plan. McCain then did an interview with anchor Katie Couric.
Letterman was not happy about the news and aired an internal live video of McCain being made up before the interview. Letterman said, "I'm more than a little disappointed by his behavior... I feel like we've caught him getting a manicure."
Several CBS News executives told the New York Post that the stunt did not sit well within the news division. One said, "If we had done something like that to him, someone around here would end up getting fired."
Another said, "They were pretty aggravated."
Birth Control Bucks
Louisiana State Representative John LaBruzzo is catching heat after proposing legislation that would pay women on welfare $1,000 if they get sterilized. The Republican says his office has been flooded with calls from angry constituents complaining about those who rely on government handouts.
He says, "You have these people who are just fed up with working their buns off to try to provide for their own family and being forced by the government to provide for other families who just want to have unlimited kids."
New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes calls the idea "seriously wrong" and Baton Rouge NAACP President Lamont Cole says the proposal could be viewed as racist, adding, "I find it extremely asinine for someone in 2008 to even think something remotely close to that."
— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.