Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

No Questions Please

The White House Counsel's office has barred congressional investigators from interviewing a former chief of staff to first lady Michelle Obama regarding events leading up to the firing of AmeriCorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin.

The Washington Examiner reports House Republicans have wanted to question Jackie Norris since learning she met with the chairman of the organization that oversees AmeriCorps, one day before Walpin was fired. Walpin has since filed a wrongful termination lawsuit. Republicans vow to continue the investigation.

Our Next Caller...

The president showed up on a local call-in radio show with Virginia Democratic Governor Tim Kaine this morning. "Barry from D.C." surprised the outgoing governor with some kind words.


RADIO HOST: Gov. let's get back to the phones, and get some callers, we've got Barry from D.C. is calling. Go ahead Barry.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, Governor Kaine this is actually the president of the United States calling. Ahh…

GOVERNOR TIM KAINE, D-VA.: No! Oh my gosh.

OBAMA: I have questions about traffic in northern Virginia. But rather than go there, I just wanted to say how proud we are of your service as governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.


The president not surprisingly did not touch on Kaine's recently proposed tax hike, layoffs and deep cuts to the next two-year state budget; all have Republican lawmakers furious.

Show Me the Money

Some former Republican National Committee chairmen are raising eyebrows over speaking fees being charged by current party chief Michael Steele. The Washington Times reports Steele gets between $8,000 and $20,0000 per speech, plus first-class travel and lodging expenses.

Former RNC Chairman from the 1980s Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. said: "Holy mackerel, I never heard of a chairman of either party ever taking money for speeches." Another RNC chairman who served during the late 90s says the party leader shouldn't be taking time out to speak for personal gain.

Steele's office dismisses the criticism as silly, saying Steele had been giving speeches long before he was elected chairman.

O Christmas Tree

Some interesting ornaments have been spotted on the White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room.

The Web site biggovernment.com posted some pictures of ornaments it says are featured on this year's tree. They include Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong, drag queen celebrity Hedda Lettuce who boasts on her Web site about her ornament being featured in the White House, and Mount Rushmore with a familiar face added.

The first lady's office says local community groups were asked to decorate hundreds of ornaments but that they are unaware of these specific decorations.

Fox News Channel's Lanna Britt contributed to this report.