The Zeitgeist Checklist

Zeitgeist Checklist: Rotting Corpse Edition

What Washington is talking about this week.

Mission Accomplished, Cheerio! Iraq. Prime Minister Tony Blair announces the pullout of 1,600 British troops from Iraq—a real vote of confidence for President Bush’s surge. Dick Cheney, who even Bush disagrees with on the war, calls the withdrawal a sign that “there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well.” Baghdad is decidedly not one of those parts, as the security situation deteriorates faster than Anna Nicole Smith’s corpse: A Sunni woman accuses Iraqi police officers of rape, insurgents detonate a tank truck full of chlorine, and another helicopter gets shot down.

Shocker: U.N. Resolution Ignored Iran. Iran pushes ahead with its nuclear program, despite a U.N. request to suspend uranium production. The United States is expected to demand strict sanctions. U.N. officials are expected to ask again, this time like they mean it. The BBC, meanwhile, discovers what it calls U.S. “attack plans” listing specific targets in Iran. Officials reassure them it’s OK, President Bush just discovered Google Maps.

Barack Goes Hollywood
2008. Hillary and Obama clash over remarks made by Hollywood mogul David Geffen. Geffen, a former Clinton donor, says he now supports Obama because Hillary made a mistake on the war and is “the easiest to beat.” Tom Vilsack momentarily swells with pride, then drops out. But Obama refuses to return Geffen’s money, saying he doesn’t need to apologize for someone else’s words. That, and he doesn’t want to jeopardize the fall 2008 release of Obama, starring Don Cheadle.

Britney Shears Celebrities. Britney Spears shaves her head, gets a tattoo, and checks in and out and back in to rehab. She might as well spare us the suspense and join the Church of Scientology already. In Anna Nicole Smith news, future Court TV judge Larry Seidlin bursts into tears as he reads the ruling that she will be buried with her son in the Bahamas. Apparently no one told him the Oscars aren’t till Sunday.

Sob Story Crime. The Virginia “McMissile” case closes as Jessica Hall, convicted for throwing a McDonalds cup into a moving car, walks free. A judge says her initial two-year sentence was too harsh. In his closing arguments at the perjury trial of Scooter Libby, defense attorney Ted Wells breaks down crying and pleads with the jury to “give him back to me!” Best supporting actor, easily.

Revolutionary War, Part II Religion. The primates of the Anglican Church give the U.S. Episcopal Church eight months to ban the blessing of same-sex unions. (That, or convert all their congregations to heterosexuality with three weeks of rehab.) But many American Episcopal leaders would rather accept a schism than discriminate, especially since breaking ties with England tends to work out so nicely.

Zapruder Thinks the Mise-en-Scène Could Be Better
History. A Dallas museum unveils a newly discovered film showing John F. Kennedy and Jackie in the presidential motorcade moments before his assassination. Conspiracy theorists are dismayed to learn the “magic bullet” theory is probably explained by JFK’s bunched-up jacket. Oliver Stone’s feature-length retraction can’t be far off.

Fear and Loathing (but Mostly Loathing) on the Campaign Trail
Congress. Sen. John McCain calls Donald Rumsfeld “one of the worst secretaries of defense in history”—and that’s coming from a guy who fought under McNamara. As for his comments in December that Rumsfeld “deserves Americans’ respect and gratitude,” that was before the Straight Talk Express left the station. Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Lieberman indicates he might switch parties if Democrats try to block war funding. Happy now, Connecticut?

Enemy Combatants Too Hot for Federal Courts Law. A federal appeals court rules that Guantanamo detainees do not have a right to challenge their detention in federal courts, even though neither the administration nor Congress has suspended habeas corpus. Bush considers it, though—Lincoln comparisons are good for poll numbers. The case will likely go to the Supreme Court, which, after ruling on it twice before, is frankly getting a little bored of the whole civil liberties thing.

What Are They Smoking? Business. The high court overturns a nearly $80 million award intended to compensate a smoker’s widow. It’s a major victory for tobacco companies, especially now that Obama’s quitting has made smoking uncool again. In other news, XM Radio and Sirius announce plans for a merger. Howard Stern will spend a two-hour show chuckling over the word merge.