The Zeitgeist Checklist

Zeitgeist Checklist: Still Turning the Corner

What Washington is talking about this week.

Tet For Tat Iraq. The violence intensifies, a phrase that is now F9 on the Zeitgeist Checklist’s keyboard. Bush administration officials secretly prepare to Adapt and Adjust, or Redeploy and Reconfigure, or whatever it is they’re calling Cut and Run these days. The president compares the crisis to the Tet Offensive but still rejects larger Vietnam analogies. He’s right: In Vietnam, only half the country hated us.

Republicans. Despite awful poll numbers, the party accentuates the positive: The FBI raided only one GOP lawmaker last week, Rep. Curt Weldon, Pa. White House aides are not even allowed to discuss the possibility of losing Congress, which makes sense; they’re too busy planning their Social Security-reform bill-signing ceremony and breaking ground on the Jenna Bush Presidential Library to worry about crazy hypotheticals.

Fallout North Korea. The fallout continues from Kim Jong-il’s recent nuclear test. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announces that America won’t tolerate provocative actions against its Asian allies, while Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld orders his generals to draw up plans for an invasion of Bhutan.

Off-Massage Page-gate. A priest admits that he gave a teenage Mark Foley nude massages in the 1960s, although he says it didn’t seem wrong at the time. Neither did LSD, Vietnam, or Jefferson Airplane, but we know better now, don’t we? Meanwhile, as rumors swirl about a third representative with a page problem, R. Kelly files papers to run for Congress.

Prevent Defense Homeland Security. Counterterrorism officials dismiss an Internet warning of “dirty bombs” in seven football stadiums and urge all Americans to go about their business. A nation of patriotic fans vows to continue to gorge on beer and stale nachos, while the Redskins vow to continue to stink.

Manilow Tunes Are Still Beyond the Pale War on Terrorism. President Bush signs a bill allowing interrogators to use “coercive techniques,” but not torture. According to military-law experts, waterboarding is torture, but forcing detainees to watch the Redskins is merely a coercive technique. The bill passed with overwhelming Republican support, although Mark Foley, speaking from Guantanamo Bay, says he now regrets his vote.

The Defeatocrats Democrats. With polls suggesting a GOP freefall, Democrats try to figure out how on Earth they’re going to lose the election this time. Not to worry: The Saddam Hussein verdict is now expected on Nov. 5, and election officials anticipate voting malfunctions on Nov. 7. Pencil in Nov. 6 for Osama’s next video release.

Earth First Space. Bush’s new National Space Policy rejects arms-control agreements that could limit U.S. flexibility in the heavens. Bush denies that he’s trying to militarize space, but Rumsfeld orders his generals to draw up plans for an invasion of Neptune. And the administration refuses to rule out attacks on additional planets or recently demoted planets; where do you think Kim Jong-il got his uranium and plutonium?

NYSE Package
Economy. As the Dow Jones industrial average breaks the 12,000 mark, a judge orders former New York Stock Exchange chief Dick Grasso to return most of his $188 million retirement package. The judge notes that the golden parachute was totally unheard of for nonprofit corporations, except for Ford and General Motors.

Or Maybe Bipartisanshipium? Science. Researchers from Russia and the United States create a new element in an audacious lab experiment, but it exists for only one millisecond before it begins to decay. They’re thinking of calling it stabilityiniraqium.