Columnist Creates Uproar With Racial Epithet to Describe Colin Powell

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Lucrative Coincidence?

California Republican Congressman Ken Calvert has made a profit of nearly $500,000 on land he bought just a year ago. Critics think the dramatic increase in value could have something to do with $10 million in improvements to the surrounding area personally earmarked by Calvert himself.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a map of Calvert's recent real estate holdings shows that many are near transportation projects he's supported with federal appropriations, which included 69 earmarks last year.

Calvert called charges of a conflict of interest a manufactured controversy saying, "I've never done anything to enrich myself using the position I hold."

Controversial Column

A newspaper columnist in Ohio has created an uproar among readers who objected to his use of a racial epithet to describe former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

In a column attacking Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell, The Cleveland Plain Dealer's liberal Metro columnist Sam Fullwood wrote that Powell "flamed out after his ego no longer allowed him to be an unquestioning spearchucker in Mr. Bush's war."

Fuller, who is himself black, admits that he deliberately used "provocative, incendiary — but not hurtful — language" to "get people engaged," but says he doesn't consider the term to be offensive.

Missing Detail

Fifty-one percent of Americans now say they disapprove of the National Security Agency's database of domestic phone calls, according to a new USA Today poll.

The number from a Washington Post poll taken last week, just after the story broke, in which 63% of Americans called the NSA program an acceptable way for the government to investigate terrorism.

The paper reports that its findings "may differ because questions in the two polls were worded differently." They sure were.

USA Today's poll question does not mention that the NSA database program does not involve listening to or recording telephone conversations, while the Post poll did.

A Tale of Two Guys

Viewers watching British technology expert Guy Kewney discussing a verdict on Apple Computers on the BBC last week may have concluded that he had no clue what he was talking about.

When asked whether he was surprised by the verdict in a case involving Apple computers, "Kewney" responded in a heavy French accent saying he was "very surprised" and adding, "When I came they told me something else and I am coming." And on the cost of Internet downloads, "Kewney" replied, "It is much better for development and to inform people what they want and to get the easy way and so faster if they are looking for." Turns out, a confused producer had the wrong "Guy," mistakenly grabbing Congolese job applicant Guy Goma from a BBC lobby.

The BBC reports that Goma later called the interview "very stressful" and wondered why the questions he was asked weren't related to the technical support job for which he'd applied.

—FOX News Channel's Aaron Bruns contributed to this report.