The Zeitgeist Checklist

Zeitgeist Checklist, Dems in Charge

What Washington is talking about this week.

At the End of Their Ropes Iraq. A bootleg video of Saddam Hussein’s execution spreads across the Internet, condemning the former dictator to the only punishment worse than death: an eternity of YouTube mashups. Meanwhile, as the American body count climbs past 3,000, Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki tells the Wall Street Journal he wishes he “could be done with” his job ASAP.

Bipartisanship, Shmipartisanship
Democrats. The new congressional majority announces a plan for its first 100 hours, starting with ignoring Republicans. The plan also focuses on national security, the minimum wage, and an ethics overhaul that would ban the use of corporate jets. Republicans accuse them of violating their promised “spirit of bipartisanship,” since the ban would prevent most GOP lawmakers from getting to work.

Blowing His Chances? 2008. Mitt Romney quits “testing the waters” and—surprise!— declares his candidacy. Now all he has to do is fend off accusations from conservatives that he was governor of Massachusetts. In the other camp, Barack Obama’s cocaine use, which he discussed in a memoir 11 years ago, suddenly becomes an issue. President Bush is rumored to be shocked—shocked!—that someone considering the presidency would admit such a thing. Romney, informed by his aides that candor is “in,” admits that he once drank Coke.

Reshuffling the Deck Diplomacy. Intelligence czar and former Iraq envoy John Negroponte resigns to become deputy secretary of state, where he’ll have more say in foreign policy. A perfect prelude to unveiling Bush’s “new” plan for Iraq: Bring in the guy who helped make it such a roaring success in the first place. His successor as intelligence czar, former National Security Agency director Michael McConnell, doesn’t need to be briefed. He heard everything.

Defile At Will
Religion. FBI agents report having witnessed Guantanamo interrogators squatting over a Koran in order to offend a Muslim captive. Meanwhile, Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison mollifies critics by taking his oath of office on a Quran that belonged to Thomas Jefferson. Rep. Virgil Goode, who expressed fears that this act would lead to “many more Muslims” being elected, restrains himself from squatting over the holy book.

Good Ship Rudy Springs a Leak Republicans. A leaked internal strategy memo enumerates the challenges facing Rudy Giuliani’s likely presidential campaign, including his positions on social issues, disgraced former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik, and leaked internal strategy memos. “All will come out—in worst light,” the documents say. Giuliani insists he was talking about gays and, you know, bad lighting.

Still Gone, Still Forgotten
President Ford. President Bush declares a national day of mourning for ex-ex-President Gerald Ford. Federal workers spend the day dreaming about how they, too, could someday become president without being elected.

Bombs Over Bangkok
New Year’s. A series of nine deadly bombings interrupt celebrations in Bangkok. Britney Spears also rings in the New Year at a Vegas nightclub by getting totally bombed. Er, “falling asleep,” according to her manager. Fortune-telling religious broadcaster Pat Robertson predicts a “mass killing” in late 2007 based on an alleged message from God. Pay heed: Robertson has a history of predicting national tragedies, starting with Bush’s victory in 2004.

Welcome Back, Nonrapists!
Crime. Duke University invites lacrosse players Colin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann back to school as students in good standing. For the welcome-back party, lawyers advise them to please hire a magician or a clown or something. Another former lacrosse player who wasn’t charged in the incident sues the school, claiming a professor gave him an F when he deserved a C. It’s unclear whether due process applies to grade grubbing.

Business. A lawsuit accuses Apple computer executives of backdating stock options to inflate their value. Look for new ads showing a hipster Mac exploring cool new investing loopholes, while an out-of-touch PC reads a big boring book of rules. Dumb old PCs! After driving his company’s stock into the ground, Home Depot CEO Robert Nardelli ducks out with a $210 million severance package. It seems the best thing he did for the company was to leave—its stock price is already up.