The Zeitgeist Checklist

Zeitgeist Checklist, Gitmo Edition

What Washington is talking about this week.

Lights Out for Black Sites
War on terrorism. President Bush regains upper hand with two tactical concessions: moving prisoners from secret CIA lockups to Guantanamo and blocking military from using water-boarding and other questionable questioning techniques. The move disarms Democrats and GOP mavericks; let’s see them try to close Gitmo now. State’s Philip Zelikow duels with top spook John Negroponte for credit.

No(T Much) Confidence Iraq. Senate Republicans block a no-confidence vote on Rummy, who is put on the 60-day DL after rotator-cuff surgery. But GOP lawmakers, dragged down by Bush, turn an envious eye toward London, where dissident Labor lawmakers force Tony Blair to step down within a year. Baghdad, answering U.S. reports of calm, says it needs more morgues.

ABC Overlooks P’s and Q’s Homeland Security. Katie Couric is panned in her debut as CBS News anchor, but this is quickly overshadowed by ABC flub. Part of the 9/11-plus-five hubbub, the network’s miniseries The Path to 9/11 makes changes after Clinton officials protest fabrications. The biggest howler: Blaming the Washington Post for exposing monitoring of Osama Bin Laden’s phone; it was the Washington Times.

Bread and Circuses
Republicans. House GOP shows signs of panic. With little hope for a big immigration bill and most of the year’s spending bills languishing, the chamber takes up commemorative coins and horse-meat ban. Democrats’ line: “We would win if the election were held today”—which, of course, it isn’t.

Dancing With the Hammer Schlock. Tom DeLay, with time on his hands, tells his supporters to back Dancing With the Stars contestant Sarah Evans. DeLay thinks the country singer is the best hope for Republicans to prevent the dance prize from going to another entrant, “ultra liberal talk show host Jerry Springer.” But what about a third contestant, Tucker Carlson?

Feeding the Addiction Economy. All that concern about global warming is so last month. Gas prices fall after Chevron finds huge gusher in the Gulf of Mexico that could boost U.S. reserves up to 50 percent. But it’s too late for SUV-heavy Ford, where scion Bill Ford throws in the oily rag.

The New World Disorder Iran. Cheeky former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, given a visa to tour the United States, scolds Bush administration for Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo at a Washington news conference. Khatami has reason to be nervy: U.S. diplomats, meeting with European and Chinese counterparts, agree that Tehran openly flouted U.N. nuclear demands—but also seem to agree that they have no hope of agreeing on sanctions.

Party Crashers
Intelligence. Senate Democrats muddy Bush’s 9/11 anniversary choreography by forcing the release of intelligence committee report finding that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, that Saddam Hussein forbade dealings with al-Qaida and twice rebuffed meetings with the group, and that he tried to capture Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—all contrary to administration claims.

Boy Mayor? Home News. In Tuesday’s primary, D.C. Democrats appear poised to select 35-year-old Adrian Fenty as their nominee, and thus the city’s next mayor. The last time Washington opted for a charismatic young man: 1978, when it elected Marion Barry. Fenty would inherit a city deeply shaken by the discovery of androgynous fish in the Potomac and fading prospects for a Metro tunnel beneath Tyson’s Corner.

Crikey Sudan. Darfur peace deal breaks down as the Sudanese government intensifies the war. But this horrific development gets only a passing glance; Washington is distracted by the untimely demise of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, undone by a stingray.