And now the most compelling two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
Worth Going to War Over?
Support for the war in Iraq is on the rise among Americans, according to a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll. Fifty-nine percent of respondents now say that the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over, up from 56 percent in November.
Furthermore, 60 percent approve of the president's decision to go to war with Iraq in March, and while 51 percent disapprove of the way the U.S. has handled the post-war situation in Iraq, that number is down 4 percent from last month.
When asked at last night's Democratic presidential debate about comments he'd made suggesting that President Bush (search) may have known about the 9/11 attacks beforehand, Howard Dean said -- "I did not exactly state that. I was asked on FOX fair and balanced news ... why I thought President Bush was withholding information."
Dean's reference to FOX News brought laughter from the audience, but he was not, in fact, asked that question on FOX, but rather on National Public Radio's Diane Rehm Show. In a December 1st interview on NPR, Dean volunteered the following: -- "the most interesting theory that I've heard so far, which is nothing more than a theory...is that [Bush] was warned ahead of time by the Saudis." Days later, on FOX, Dean admitted he did not believe the theory.
At the same debate last night, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search) blasted President Bush for unilateralism in Iraq, saying -- "the only way to be successful ultimately is to transfer to the United Nations the full measure of authority for the reconstruction of Iraq." But U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan (search) says that the U.N., which pulled out of Iraq after a bomb attack on its Baghdad Headquarters in August, won't contribute to reconstruction efforts in the near future, despite the Bush administration's repeated requests for a U.N. return to Iraq. In a report to the Security Council, Annan said -- "I cannot afford to compromise the security of our international staff."
Rooting for Howard
Meanwhile, Howard Dean has gained an unlikely cheering section ... President Bush's campaign staff. Thomas DeFrank of the The New York Daily News reports that several senior members of the Bush camp are privately gloating over Dean's recent success, saying they are -- "extraordinarily happy" with Dean's frontrunner status, and they -- "don't see Dean winning more than five" states in a general election. One Bush aide said last August -- "we love that Dean's coming on. Never in a million years did we think there was a chance we'd get Dean."
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report