Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Taking a Hit

USA Today is criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her meeting this week with Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying Pelosi "stepped out of bounds on an ill-conceived trip to Syria." It said that she "crossed a line" and "violated a long-held understanding that the United States should speak with one official voice abroad."

But the paper also carried a response from House Foreign Affairs committee Chairman Tom Lantos — who was on the trip with Pelosi. He writes that "USA today's views distort both the nature of Speaker Pelosi's trip and the constitutional role of Congress in foreign policy," and adds Pelosi, "acted well within the bounds of current U.S.foreign policy."

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal also criticized the trip, and pointed to a different remark from Lantos who said during the trip: " We have an alternative Democratic foreign policy. I view my job as beginning with restoring overseas credibility and respect for the United States."

Hero Memorial

Some parents in Littleton, Colorado are protesting plans to erect a memorial to a fallen hero. This statue will honor Danny Dietz — a local man who was in a team of U.S. Navy SEALs caught in an ambush almost two years ago in Afghanistan. Dietz fought for 45 minutes while severely wounded — and enabled one of his comrades to escape.

But the protesting parents say the statue glorifies violence because Dietz is depicted with his rifle. They say the gun conjures up memories of the nearby Columbine shootings and is too close to areas where children play.

Dietz's window says comparing the guns at Columbine with her husband's rifle is like comparing a criminal's knife with a surgeon's scalpel. Patsy Dietz says, "one is used to take lives, and the other is used to save them."

Hate Messages

The think tank that generated headlines by reporting that Al Gore's Nashville mansion uses about 20 times as much energy as the average home, has been bombarded by hate messages ever since.

Nicole Williams of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research tells the Scripps Howard News Service that she received about 10 death threats by phone, and more than 100 threats that said in one way or another — "I'm gonna get you."

The center received nearly 3,000 Gore-related emails — many too vulgar to repeat here. Of those that can be, one said: "I hope you all die slowly and have your hearts and brains trampled to pieces — you small-minded, ignorant, backwoods ideologues."

Another e-mailer said: "You bunch of stupid hick rednecks. I am sure you are quite religious, yet you have no problem destroying His creation with pollution; and, rather than addressing that, you cast dispersions on Al Gore's home energy use."

Yet another: "You are a total waste of skin and air. Help the environment and jump off a cliff."

Running Unopposed

And in alderman in Missouri City, Missouri — population 300 — was running unopposed for re-election this week. So Joe Selle says he simply forgot to vote. Unfortunately, so did everyone else.

Selle received no votes — zero — in Tuesday's third ward balloting. Now the city isn't sure what to do. The Kansas City Star reports the city attorney says the city's pre-civil war charter states the incumbent can hold office until someone else is elected to take his place — but added — "I'm not happy that nobody…voted in an election."

—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.