Terror in Texas?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Causes for Concern?

President Bush's approval rating (search) has dropped to 45 percent in the latest Gallup poll, down 7 points from a week ago. The figure represents his lowest approval rating in this poll since he took office. But the Gallup organization said the reason for the drop isn't entirely clear. Pollsters say public opposition to federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo case may have played a role or even more likely, concerns about the economy, including the recent jump in gasoline prices.

The high cost of gas topped the list of most important economic problems mentioned by respondents. Fifty-nine percent of those polled say they believe the economy is getting worse.

Powerful Panel

Former President Jimmy Carter (search) and former Secretary of State James Baker (search) will co-chair a bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform (search) in search of ways to avoid past problems. The commission will have a lot to look into in Wisconsin, where the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the city violated state law by failing to properly verify election results. The paper found that the city reported 7,000 more votes cast than the number of voters who showed up at the polls.

Though officials want to get to the bottom of all this, it would not have affected the outcome of the presidential election. John Kerry won 72 percent of the vote in Milwaukee and won the state by 11,000 votes.

Terror in Texas?

Two separate Islamist groups have claimed responsibility for that explosion at a Texas chemical plant that killed 15 and injured more than 100. In an Internet statement, the Army of the Levant said it was behind the blast. But another group calling itself the al-Qaeda Organisation for Holy War in the United States of America promised to issue a video of the attack to prove it was responsible. The FBI says neither one of them was responsible, they've ruled out terrorism as the cause of the blast.

Speech Spat

A Kentucky mayor has sued his own city for violating his freedom of speech. Hurtbourne Mayor Furman Wallace (search) says city commissioners won't let him speak for the city without their authorization and he's suing for monetary damages. But commissioners say they don't dare let the mayor speak for them because he's rude and abrasive. They say they drafted an ordinance to silence Mayor Wallace after he called one commissioner "biased and incompetent." Wallace says that, as mayor, he has the right to speak his mind.

— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report