The Zeitgeist Checklist

Zeitgeist Checklist: Guilty, Guilty, Guilty Edition

What Washington is talking about this week.

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty
Crime. After 10 days of deliberation, a jury finds Scooter Libby guilty on four of five counts, sparking speculation about the Bush administration’s legacy. (Hint: not the good kind.) Libby could serve anywhere from one and a half to three years, depending on what Judge Reggie Walton has for breakfast on sentencing day. President Bush indicates he will not pardon Libby anytime soon—that’s what the five minutes before leaving office are for.

Barely Legal
Law. The firing of eight federal prosecutors last December retakes the headlines, as six of them testify that Justice Department officials and Republican members of Congress had pressured them to speed up corruption investigations of Democrats. Prosecutor David Iglesias, the inspiration for the Tom Cruise character in A Few Good Men, argues that congressmen can’t handle the timelines for investigations. Or, for that matter, the truth. Attorney General Albert Gonzales agrees to stop resisting legislation that would curb the administration’s power to replace prosecutors. “Gonzales” … “agree” … “curb” … “power.” Yes, you read that right.

The Secret Life of Walter Reed
Health. Fallout continues over conditions in the Army’s Walter Reed Hospital, as Congress grills commanders formerly in charge of the hospital. Some congressmen suggest Army Surgeon General Kevin C. Kiley should resign, while Kiley argues he was unaware of the neglect. He and Donald Rumsfeld really should hang out some time. Luckily, there’s a perfect opportunity to test out the new system: Dick Cheney has a blood clot in his leg.

Flaming Conservative
Conservatives. Right-wing flame-thrower Ann Coulter calls John Edwards a “faggot.” Coulter defends her remarks, saying the word just means “wuss” and doesn’t have anything to do with homosexuality. Still, Edwards drafts a speech suggesting Coulter visit New Orleans; they need big dykes.

The Motorcade Diaries
Latin America. With the Libby verdict and the Walter Reed scandal nipping at his heels, President Bush skips town for his big swing around the South—America, that is. Bush intends to rally support from Mexicans everywhere, be they from Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, or even Mexico. The administration conspicuously omits any mention of the Venezuelan president, although Bush looks up the Spanish for “Ugohay Ávezchay.”

Dems Have a Plan, Sort Of
Iraq. House Democrats reveal a plan that would pull troops out of Iraq by fall 2008. At this rate, that’s only about 1,200 American deaths from now! The resolution also allocates $20 billion more than Bush requested, to cover health expenses for returning vets—a friendly reminder of the latest royal botch. President Bush challenges the plan and cites“encouraging signs” in Iraq—but not so encouraging that we should leave by fall 2008.

Barack Obama, Parking Violator
2008. Sen. Barack “Mr. Clean” Obama seems to have missed a spot. A local paper reports he paid off $375 worth of Cambridge, Mass. parking tickets in January—17 years late. Earlier in the week, Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton travel separately to Selma, Ala., to commemorate the civil rights protesters who marched there 42 years ago. “I am the fruits of your labor,” Obama tells a crowd. Ann Coulter agrees—Obama is a fruit. Meantime, potential GOP candidate Newt Gingrich admits in an interview with Focus on the Family that he was having an extramarital affair while investigating President Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal—evidence he’s qualified for the job.

C’est la Mort
Death. French intellectual and slippery Postmodernist Jean Baudrillard dies, although he would probably disagree. Despite his disdain for shallow media culture and “hyperreality,” he will always be remembered as the guy responsible for The Matrix. Zut alors! Speaking of things that aren’t real, Captain America “dies“—scare quotes not because he’s fictional but because knowing Marvel, they’ll probably resurrect him next month with a titanium exoskeleton or angel wings or something.

Nowak Ventures Into Vast, Unexplored Territory of Layoffs
Space. NASA dismisses Lisa Nowak, making her the first American astronaut ever to be fired—the Alan Shephard of pink slips. She will return to active duty with the Navy, where driving 1,000 miles in a diaper to pepper spray and kidnap a romantic rival is acceptable behavior, apparently.

Comfort Feud
Japan. Under pressure from the United States and Asia, Japan investigates whether women were forced to work as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers at World War II-era brothels known as “comfort stations.” You have to admire the Japanese knack for euphemism—when someone throws himself in front of a Tokyo subway car, it’s called a “human accident.” As long as they’re looking into past abuses, China wonders if Japan could also address that whole Rape of Nanking thing.