And now some fresh pickings from the grapevine:
Which Would You Like to Hear First?
A new poll contains both good and bad news for the Bush administration.
First the bad -- According to the National Annenberg Election Survey, fewer Americans now approve of the president's handling of Iraq, dropping from 47 percent two weeks ago to 44 percent.
The poll also shows only 43 percent of Americans now say the war in Iraq was worth it, compared with 49 percent who felt that way two weeks ago. According to the poll, a majority of Americans believe the war in Iraq has increased the terrorism threat against the United States, and a majority of Americans think President Bush does not have a clear plan to bring the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion.
So what's the good news? Despite all that ... the poll shows President Bush's job approval rating has increased in the past two weeks, moving from 50 percent to 53 percent now.
Klain Says Kick the Habit
Prominent Washington Democrat and Former Gore adviser Ronald Klain is warning his own party to -- "[stop] snickering over the president's contention that 'freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman.'"
Klain, writing in the L.A. Times, says that by -- "laughing at the president's invocation of the notion of natural rights," Democrats -- "are risking political damnation."
After all, Klain says, Democrats laughed at then-Governor Bush in the 2000 presidential campaign for saying Jesus Christ was the philosopher who most affected his life, and look who is now president. So, Klain says, -- "[that's] an arrogance the Democrats would be well-advised to resist."
A commissioner in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, is accusing an aide to senator Arlen Specter of trying to blackmail him for supporting Specter's rival in this month's Republican primary, Pat Toomey.
Commissioner Andy Roman says he called Specter aide Adrienne Baker Green and received support for expanding Lehigh's rail system, but once Roman endorsed Toomey, Roman says, -- "the demeanor of the conversation dramatically changed ... [and Baker Green] basically threatened me with withdrawing [her] support."
Baker Green denies doing any such thing, insisting that she warned Roman from the start that expanding the rail lines would be difficult -- but that she wanted to be helpful.
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report