And now the most engaging two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine.

The Cato Institute, which does an annual count of the length and number of new government initiatives in every State of the Union address has found President Bush's to be shorter on both counts than either of Bill Clinton's last two. The libertarian research organizations reports that in 1999, President Clinton made 95 new policy proposals in a 77-minute speech, and topped then in 2000 by announcing 104 initiatives in an 89-minute speech. Mr. Bush, says Cato, announced only 38 proposals in 49 minutes last February and 39 proposals last night in 48 minutes.

Mr. Bush does seem to have gotten the kind of immediate poll uptick most Presidents get after such a speech. Gallup reported that 74 percent of the speech watchers surveyed had a very positive reaction to the speech and another 20 percent had a somewhat positive reaction. Eighty-eight percent thought the president's proposals for the economy were either very or somewhat effective, and 97 percent felt that way about his proposals for the war on terrorism.

A Muslim woman in Florida is suing the state because it insists she must remove her face-covering veil for her driver's license photograph. Sultaan Freeman of Winter Park says she was allowed to wear her veil, which covers everything but her eyes, for a Florida license photo last February. But after Sept. 11, she was told she would need a new picture without the veil. State law says a license must have a "full-face photograph." But her lawyer says another state law also forbids the government to "substantially burden" the exercise of religion.

Donald Arnold is a private detective and security guard in Baltimore who was named the state's "Citizen of the Year" two years ago for helping the police crack down on drug dealers. But the Washington Times reports that when the Vietnam veteran tried to renew the license for the gun he uses in his work, he was turned down. The reason: in 1969, he was convicted of a misdemeanor after a barroom scuffle with a man who noticed his army jacket and called him a  "baby killer." He got a suspended sentence, but state officials say that because he could have gotten two years, they blocked his gun license.