Florida's Governor Sets Sail

And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine:

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Setting Sail
As we heard earlier, Jeb Bush set sail today on a Disney Cruise with his relatives, including former President George Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush -- this in spite of several recent cruises in which more than 1,500 passengers became sick with a flu-like illness. But the Florida governor wasn't concerned about that. He told reporters yesterday, "I'm not worried at all about the health issue. I am a little worried about being on a boat that long without e-mail and stuff." But he was not concerned about where the cruise was going. Asked where his ship was headed, Gov. Bush said, “Somewhere, I don't know." Apparently, anywhere is fine for the holidays, as long as it isn't the office.

Unusual Suspects
A New York police officer got some unexpected charity from a most unusual source. Officer Eduardo Delacruz received $3,000 for Christmas from the homeless. Homeless people and the organizations that represent them wanted to thank officer Delacruz for standing up for them. Delacruz was suspended for 30 days without pay last month after refusing to arrest a homeless man found sleeping in a parking garage. In gratitude, homeless groups created a fund for the 37-year-old policeman and his family. And many homeless people contributed to the fund by recycling cans and bottles, among other things.

Christmas Kickback
And a courtroom in Tennessee rewards people for their Christmas spirit. Clifford Jones was one of 55 people who went to court over traffic violations, but wound up singing rather than paying. A judge in Columbia, Tenn., following a three-year tradition, allowed traffic violators in court just before Christmas to avoid paying a fine by singing a Christmas carol and donating five canned goods to charity. Mr. Jones sang, "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer." After his debut, Jones said, "I'm a little shy, but not about saving a dollar."

British Banter
And the Christmas Day sermon for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his family seemed fine, until his priest bad-mouthed him later to a newspaper. The Daily Mirror said Father Timothy Russ gave the Blair family and other worshippers a traditional sermon on peace at St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church on Christmas Day. But after the service, the priest told the newspaper that the prime minister is caught up in a "power game" over Iraq and accused him of "a moral surrender." While Blair lays out the evidence about Iraq to the British public, it looks like he has his work cut out for him convincing his own family priest that Saddam Hussein is the threat to peace.