And now the most intriguing two minutes in television, the latest from Special Report's "Political Grapevine." 

Defending his aides against the "f" word

Witnesses say a fist fight nearly broke out on the House floor last week between Majority Whip Tom DeLay and a Democratic aide named Scott Lilly, who is said to have used the "F" word in loudly denouncing a group of Republican staff members, including one female. 

Roll Call reports that DeLay then grabbed Lilly by the back of his jacket and said, "Don't you come over here and use foul language with my staff."  Lilly replied, "You're not intimidating me, DeLay," but later apologized.  He told Roll Call, "I probably used a word  or two that I shouldn't have."

Prevaricating about "snakes"?

California Governor Gray Davis appears to have been caught in a series of untruths in his accusations that Texas power companies, which he called the "biggest snakes on Earth," had gouged his state when it needed to buy power on the spot market this year.  An article in The Houston Chronicle says that newly released public records show that such companies, Texas companies, actually charged California utilities less than the state's publicly owned utilities were charging.

For the first three months of the year, the article says California's own utilities were selling their excess power for $344 per megawatt while the Texas companies were charging only $250.  The article, by two Cato Institute researchers, said Davis knew this all the time.

Aide who advised Reno gets demoted

A senior Justice Department whose opposition played a major part in Janet Reno's refusal to appoint an independent counsel to investigate the Clinton fund-raising scandals has been reassigned, demoted.  Lee Radek, who has been head of the department's public integrity section, will become a senior counsel in the asset forfeiture and money laundering section. 

Radek's handling of the fund-raising case at one point led FBI Director Louis Freeh to urge him to recuse himself from the case.  The decision to reassign him was made by Michael Chertoff, the new head of the criminal division, who also happens to have been chief counsel of the Senate committee that investigated the Clinton fund-raising case.

You have the right to remain continent

And finally, Rudy Giuliani may be leaving office, but New York City cops are as tough as ever.  When three-year-old Harry Branch Shaw had to go to the bathroom in Battery Park the other day, he found a tree and relieved himself.  The result was a $50 ticket, promptly issued by an alert park's officer.  Because of his age, the summons was given to the young  fellow's nanny.


A "Grapevine" item last week -- last Friday, in fact, noted that Army Specialist Richard Lovett, who was featured in an "Army of One" ad, has dropped out of the grueling special forces training course for "personal and professional reasons."  The Army points out that he was one of 534 soldiers who voluntarily withdrew from the two-year course, and that Lovett wanted to be better prepared before he applies again, likely later this year.

He is still a combat engineer, and the ads, which are for Army recruiting in general, are still in use. 

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