Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Senate Republicans have quietly slipped a measure preventing oil companies — and only oil companies — from using a common and accepted accounting practice into a larger tax bill on the Senate floor. In effect imposing a one-year, $5 billion windfall tax on oil profits, something Republicans have consistently said they opposed.
The provision, drafted by Republican Finance Chairman Charles Grassley, would stop big oil companies from using the method, which lowers the amount of taxable income, for one year. One oil company lobbyist called the measure "extremely unfair" and Finance Committee Republican Craig Thomas of Wyoming said it would "undermine the energy policy that we have been working on for years.
Threatened by Trial Lawyers
A Republican-sponsored bill that would put $7 billion into vaccines against avian flu is under fire from trial lawyers and some Democratic allies, who say the bill unfairly limits lawsuits against drug manufacturers. The Association of Trial Lawyers of America worries that the pending provision would outlaw a wide variety of lawsuits, including those that target drugs other than vaccines. And Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy accused the Republican leadership of "trying to do another special favor for drug companies."
But New Hampshire Republican Judd Gregg, who is pushing for strong liability protection, says U.S. firms will have no incentive to produce vaccines without it, telling The Washington Post, "The risk of a major liability suit far outweighs the potential rate of return."
The inspector general who found evidence that former Corporation for Public Broadcasting Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson may have broken federal law by getting involved in PBS programming is now accusing Tomlinson of "bragging" to Karl Rove about his success in getting a conservative program on the air at PBS. Tomlinson has called the allegations "malicious and irresponsible."
In an Reuters interview, inspector general Kenneth Konz says Tomlinson e-mailed Rove to keep him up to speed on his progress in balancing liberal PBS program "Now with Bill Moyers," with a conservative show, "the Journal Editorial Report. Konz says Rove responded with a short congratulations, but adds that the e-mails show no evidence that the White House was involved in pushing for right-leaning programming.
Natural or Man-Made?
A new scientific study reports that it's a clear fact that the earth's climate has been changing, but claims the changes may be more natural than man-made. In the latest Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, Turkish physicist Ali Kilcik sought to establish a parallel between solar activity change and variations in the Earth's climate.
Kilcik and his team compared solar data and air temperature for two countries half a world apart — the U.S. and Japan — from 1900 to 1995. Kilcik concluded that solar activity variations have a "marked influence" on the Earth's climate.
— FOX News' Aaron Bruns contributed to this report