Nader and the 'N-word'

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Duke's Denial

The FBI is looking into California Republican Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham's (search) ties to a defense contractor who benefited from money appropriated by the subcommittee Cunningham chairs.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that executive Mitchell Wade bought Cunningham's California home for almost $1.7 million dollars in 2003 — and sold it a short time later for $700,000 less than he paid.

Also raising eyebrows is the fact that Representative Cunningham is living on Wade's Washington yacht — named the "Duke Stir."

But Cunningham insists he's done nothing wrong and says he'll disclose details on how he's paying for his stay on the yacht as soon as he compiles them.

Disputing Dr. Frist?

Critics of Senate Majority Leader and physician Bill Frist (search) have called Terri Schiavo's autopsy report — which states that the Florida woman had irreversible brain damage — a "direct refutation" of what they call Frist's "TV diagnosis" on the Senate floor that she was not in vegetative state.

Frist argues he never "diagnosed" Schiavo, but merely questioned whether her diagnosis was accurate after talking with her brother who told Frist that she had responded to him.

He also reviewed a videotape of her and said it "depicted something very different" from a persistent vegetative state. That led Frist to ask for a more extensive evaluation of Schiavo's condition before she was allowed to die.

Secret Agent Man?

Here is one of the more bizarre conspiracy theories: An Egyptian government newspaper claims that the U.S. hunt for terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search) is all for show because Zarqawi is an American agent.

An editorial in Al-Akhbar says that Zarqawi is targeting Iraqis — not coalition forces — which proves he's working for America.

What's more, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute, the paper believes that Zarqawi's allegiance to the United States proves that his Al Qaeda boss, Usama bin Laden, has been an American agent since the 1980s.

The paper claims that the Zarqawi's "massacre of the Iraqi people" is meant to strengthen America's hold on a region vital to U.S. interests.

Nader and the 'N-word'

Ralph Nader (search) says he felt like a 'N-word' when Democrats fought to keep him off the presidential ballot in southern states last year. Nader says the move reminded him of Jim Crowe laws denying African Americans equal rights. He tells the New York Daily News that he was using the word in the same spirit as the Black Panthers — "as a word of defiance."

But while black activist and former presidential candidate Al Sharpton says his outrage over Nader's comments "rises to the level of a wrist slap," Sharpton adds, "He's not a Black Panther."

— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report