The Zeitgeist Checklist

Zeitgeist Checklist, Underage Page Edition

What Washington is talking about this week.

You’re OK; IM Not Page-gate. Disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., checks into rehab for alcoholism, following the example of disgraced former Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio. Is this why Republicans have been spending like drunken sailors? Foley’s attorney says his client also was abused when he was a kid. Lawyers for Ney and disgraced former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., announce that their clients may have been bribed when they were kids.

This House Is a Mess! Republicans. GOP leaders blame one another for Foley, engaging in circular-firing-squad politics that suggests the two parties may not be so different after all. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., refuses to step down but does say he’s sorry this all came out before the election. A silver lining for Republicans: not too many stories about macaca this week.

Not Just a River in Egypt Iraq. Bob Woodward’s latest blockbuster portrays a clueless President Bush fiddling while Iraq burns. Not to worry: Woodward reveals that the administration gets its advice on avoiding quagmires from Henry Kissinger. It also gets its advice on avoiding doughnuts from Homer Simpson. Meanwhile, the grammarian in chief says the war will be a mere “comma” in the history books and plans an anthology of Iraq-related punctuation: Invades, Shoots & Leaves.

This Is a Test North Korea. The world’s kookiest Kommunists announce that they intend to conduct an underground nuclear test. Finally, we’ve located the weapons of mass destruction.

Victory Party? Democrats. Polls suggest that control of Congress may shift for the first time since Foley’s electronic pen pals were in kindergarten—as long as the Democrats don’t do anything stupid. Party leaders say they’ve still got a month to come up with something.

Bull! Economy. The stock market hits three straight all-time highs. Economic growth appears strong; analysts credit lower oil prices, lower gas prices, and Woodward’s book sales. In other good news, Americans swept the first five Nobel Prizes. We’re not sure who won, but Woodward reports that Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell won’t be sharing the chemistry prize.

Tragedy in Amish Country Crime. In an unfathomably hideous act, a non-Amish gunman kills five Amish schoolgirls. In an unfathomably generous act, Amish leaders invite the gunman’s wife to the funerals to show that they don’t blame her. And they’re supposed to be the archaic ones?

Dunn Wrong Scandal. Former Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman Patricia Dunn is charged with fraud and conspiracy in connection with an aggressive leak investigation that targeted journalists. Patrick Fitzgerald could have told her those never work.

Let’s Just Be Friends Celebrities. Vince Vaughn breaks up with Jennifer Aniston by phone. We’re not sure what he said, but Patricia Dunn could tell by the sound of his voice that it’s definitely over. Also over: Frank Robinson’s tenure with the Washington Nationals. Robinson accepted responsibility for his team’s failures; obviously, he didn’t belong in this city.

Honesty in Government Hungary. This Central European democracy endured its third week of chaos after Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany admitted that he lied to the people for political purposes. Citizens called for his resignation in massive street rallies, and Gyurcsany agreed to a popular referendum on his rule. Apparently, lying to the people for political purposes is unusual in Central European democracies.