Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Overreaching at the NSA?
Today's front page USA Today story on the National Security Agency's database of information on domestic phone calls reports that the agency "reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans."
Not until page five, however, does the paper report the following: "Phone customers' names, addresses and other personal information are not being collected as part of this program."
By the way, despite USA Today's excitement over the story, The New York Times first reported the NSA data-mining operation in December.
The Iraqi parliament shut down briefly in only its second full day of business after a brawl broke out over a cell phone ring. The security detail for the parliament's Sunni speaker attacked Shiite legislator Ghufran al-Saidi's bodyguard on Monday after Saidi's phone repeatedly rang out a Shiite religious chant, interrupting the speaker's television interview nearby.
But when Saidi rose to complain on the parliament floor on Wednesday, the speaker ordered her microphone turned off, shut down all cameras and recessed the session leading some lawmakers to walk out in protest of what they called his brusque behavior.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson is backing off his claim that he rejected a prospective contractor who'd been selected for a HUD deal because the contractor didn't approve of President Bush.
The Dallas Business Journal reported that Jackson told a minority real estate group last month, "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract."
Jackson now says, "I deeply regret the anecdotal remarks," adding, "During my tenure, no contract has ever been awarded, rejected, or rescinded due to the personal or political beliefs of the recipient."
Vice President Cheney's daughter Mary is calling former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards a "total slime" for bringing up her homosexuality in the 2004 vice-presidential debate.
In her new book "Now It's My Turn," Cheney called the move "sleazy politics" and recalls mouthing an obscenity towards Edwards from her seat in the audience. Cheney recalls that her sister and her mother showed their displeasure in a different manner — simultaneously sticking out their tongues at Edwards.
Cheney praises her father for keeping his temper: the vice president, you may recall, merely thanked Edwards for his "kind words." Edwards, meanwhile, continues to stand by his remarks.
—Fox News Channel's Aaron Bruns contributed to this report.