Canceled Contribution

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Protest Provocateur

The protests rocking the Arab world over cartoons of the prophet Muhammad — originally published in Denmark more than 4 months ago — may be the work of leading Danish Imam Ahmed Abu Laban.

After Denmark refused to punish the newspaper that ran the cartoons, John McCain has sent a sarcastic and withering letter to freshman Illinois Senator Barack Obama, a rising star in the Democratic Party, after Obama pulled out of bipartisan talks on lobbying reform. McCain writes to "apologize" to Obama for "assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform legislation were sincere."

McCain adds, "I'm embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss... Again, sorry for the confusion, but please be assured I won't make the same mistake again." The two senators will appear before the Senate Rules Committee to testify on lobbying reform on Wednesday.

Canceled Contribution

New York Senator Hillary Clinton has put her money where her mouth is when it comes to criticizing Wal-Mart, returning a $5000 donation the retail giant made to her political action committee last November. Last week, Clinton blasted Wal-Mart for its lack of employee benefits and her staff tells Newsday she returned the money because of "serious differences with current company practices."

Clinton, you may recall, served as a paid member of the Wal-Mart board of directors from 1986 to 1992, a time when the company's benefits were less than they are today.

More from Maurice

New York Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey, an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq who says the Bush administration lied about pre-war intelligence, now claims the failure to capture Al Qaeda chief Usama bin Laden at Tora Bora was no mistake. New York's Mid-Hudson News reports that Hinchey says the administration "didn't want to capture bin Laden, because if they captured bin Laden and wiped out the Taliban, there would have been no justification for going to war in Iraq."

— FOX News' Aaron Bruns contributed to this report