Automatic Leadership for Former Vice President Walter Mondale

And now the most fascinating two minutes in television, the latest from the political grapevine:

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Instant Leader
When Walter Mondale claimed today that if he's elected to the Senate, he would automatically become a member of the leadership, he was right. He would only be the junior Senator from Minnesota but under Senate rules adopted to benefit former Vice President Hubert Humphrey when he returned to the Senate in 1971, Mondale would automatically become the Senate's deputy President Pro-Tem. It is a largely ceremonial post, but it would provide Mondale a car and driver, extra office space and a salary of $172,200, which is $17,000 more than the standard Senate pay.

Military Transport for Members
Three military passenger planes were used to ferry members of Congress, their wives and staff to that Paul Wellstone memorial service that turned into a partisan rally on Tuesday night. Insight Magazine estimates the cost of the flights at about $120,000 and says that Defense Department procedures for authorizing such planes were ignored. Such requests are supposed to come through either the vice president, or the speaker of the house, but aides to both men say they made no such request. The Pentagon says the White House made the request.

Support for Iraq Action Slipping
A new poll indicates support for military action against Iraq has slipped, with the public's view of the president's clarity on the issue apparently weakened by the continuing haggling over a U.N. resolution. The survey, by the Pew Research Center, found support for military action in Iraq now at 55 percent, down from 62 percent earlier this month, and down from 64 percent back in August and September. And those who think Mr. Bush has clearly explained his Iraq policy declined to 48 percent from 52 percent. But the same survey showed little change in the public view of the two political parties' ability to handle key issues, including the economy, where Democrats continue to enjoy a slight edge, 40 to 37 percent.

Poster Prohibited at Post Office
Down in the tiny Texas town of Cut and Shoot, near Houston, the local postmistress has been told a framed poster of the nation's official motto must come down from the wall of the post office. The poster displays the words "In God We Trust," in large white letters above the American flag colors. The post office says the poster violates regulations forbidding "depositing literature" and "soliciting and electioneering" in post office lobbies. But postmistress Ida Miera told the Houston Chronicle the poster will come down "over my dead body."