Mystery Senator Who Blocked Transparency Bill Is Revealed

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Mystery Solved

The mystery senator who blocked a floor vote on a popular bill to create a public, searchable database of all government spending has now been outed.

Alaska Republican Ted Stevens admitted to placing what's known as a secret hold on the bill, saying he's concerned the plan could create more bureaucracy and calling for a cost-benefit analysis before granting his approval.

But the Congressional Budget Office has already reported the costs of the project and what's more, Stevens never raised his concerns when the bill was unanimously voted out of his Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. In fact, Stevens didn't attend that hearing or any other hearing on the bill.

Mum's the Word

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage still has not said a word about his role in first outing former Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife as a CIA employee.

It has now been five days since Armitage was identified in a new book as being the person who first told Columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame Wilson worked at the CIA, a fact that Novak revealed in his column, touching off a barrage of allegations by Joe Wilson and others that the White House had outed her to get back at him for criticizing the administration's Iraq policy.

Armitage could have ended all of that had he come forward, but even now, with the criminal investigation into the matter all but over, he has continued his public silence and so has his former boss, ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has known of Armitage's role all along.

You Decide 2008

Hillary Clinton continues to lead the pack among possible Democratic nominees for president in 2008. The New York Senator tops Al Gore, John Kerry, and John Edwards among prospective Candidates in a new FOX News poll. This as a majority of Americans — including 49 percent of men — think Clinton is ready to be the first female president.

Meanwhile, New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Senator John McCain are running virtually neck-and-neck among top Republicans, while Giuliani claims a ten point advantage over McCain in a head-to-head race.

But while Giuliani beats Clinton by 4 points in a presidential match-up, McCain trumps Clinton by 8 — 47 to 39.

Taxi Terror

Senator Conrad Burns says the U.S. is up against a "faceless enemy" of terrorists who — quote —"drive taxi cabs in the daytime and kill at night." Those remarks aren't sitting well with the Council on American Islamic Relations, which accused the Montana Republican of contributing to "anti-Muslim hysteria." But Burns' campaign says he was just pointing out that terrorists can be anywhere.

The senator has drawn criticism during his re-election campaign for calling his house painter "a nice little Guatemalan man" and implying that he's an illegal immigrant and apologized earlier this year for telling an out-of-state firefighting team they'd done a "piss poor job" in dealing with a Montana wildfire.

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