The latest from the Political Grapevine:
Down and Dirty
Critics complained that this year's presidential race was the dirtiest in recent memory — and it turns out that voters agree.
In a new post-election Pew poll, 72 percent of registered voters said there was more mud slinging this year than in past elections. But despite the rough play, 86 percent of those surveyed said they learned enough about the candidates to make an informed selection — up 11 percentage points from eight years ago.
What's more, two thirds said they were satisfied with the choice of candidates this year.
Legacy of a Leader
Yasser Arafat (search) may have been a terrorist noted for the indiscriminate murder of women and children, but that didn't keep French President Jacques Chirac, as noted earlier, from calling him a "man of courage and conviction"
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan (search) said he was "deeply moved" by Arafat's death, adding that Arafat "symbolized...the national aspirations of the Palestinian people."
Nelson Mandela said Arafat was "one of the outstanding freedom fighters of this generation, and former president Jimmy Carter called Arafat a "powerful human symbol."
A New York Times obituary noted Arafat's terrorist acts but called them "spectacular deeds."
And in a front-page story, the LA Times calls Arafat a "Guerilla and Statesman" — never once calling him a terrorist.
A former Georgia Superintendent of Schools, Republican Linda Schrenko (search), has been indicted on charges that she embezzled more than half a million dollars in taxpayer money — and spent nearly $10,000 dollars of it on a face lift.
Schrenko is accused of stealing federal education funds, earmarked for state schools for the deaf, and funneling $250,000 dollars of the stolen cash into her failed campaign for governor in 2002.
The State Ethics Commission had previously fined Schrenko $5,000 dollars for failing to report campaign contributions — but the federal government now expects her to reimburse them to the tune of $614,000 dollars.
Former Colorado Representative Scott McInnis (search) paid his wife Lori over $40,000 dollars to serve as his 2004 campaign manager — despite the fact that McInnis wasn't running for re-election.
While the Republican congressman announced over a year ago that he would not seek another term, The Washington Post reports that his campaign reimbursed Lori McInnis for thousands of dollars in restaurant, hotel and travel bills, and paid for her car and cell phone. McInnis chief of staff Mike Hesse denied any wrongdoing, saying it would be "naive to assume that simply because Congressman McInnis is not seeking re-election that we aren't participating in the election."
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report