The Zeitgeist Checklist

Zeitgeist Checklist: Karl Rove, Come On Down

What Washington is talking about this week.

Let’s Get Ready To Rrrrrumble!
Law. President Bush and Congress lay the foundations for a White House-Capitol Hill smackdown (think a 536-person Battle Royale, with wooden seats instead of folding chairs) over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. The Senate rejects Bush’s offer to have aides Karl Rove and Harriet Miers speak to lawmakers off the record. Instead, it approves the subpoenas necessary to get sworn testimony. Rove and Miers start practicing not recalling things. Bush dismisses Congress’ wrangling as a partisan “show trial,” while Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy chides Bush for “telling the Senate how to do our investigation.” Amid the fracas, Bush reaffirms his commitment to Alberto Gonzales —just like he did right before Miers withdrew her Supreme Court nomination.

It’s Back
Health. John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, announce that her breast cancer has returned and is worse than before. Despite a grim prognosis, Elizabeth said the couple is “incredibly optimistic” and that the Edwards campaign will continue. The other candidates hastily scrub their speeches clean of all insensitive language, including references to “keeping abreast” of situations, “tit for tat” exchanges, and “Iraq.” Meanwhile, the irony police wait for the outpouring of sympathy to pass before pointing out that Edwards made his fortune suing doctors.

Let Them Eat Pork
Iraq. House Democrats gussy up their $122 billion war-funding bill (read: war-ending bill) by tossing in money for a pet project or two. Wait, make that $21 billion worth of pet projects. Georgia lawmakers are faced with a painful choice: support a 2008 pullout or sacrifice $75 million for peanut storage.

District Dissed
Congress. House Republicans stall a bill that would give the District of Columbia a voting representative. Their method: attaching a provision that would loosen gun-control laws. Piss off D.C., then give it guns—smart move! Disenfranchised D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is astonished that the GOP is “playing games with voting rights.” Apparently attaching absurd amendments is acceptable only when it comes to less serious issues, like war funding.

The Truth, the Whole Truth, the Inconvenient Truth
Environment. Al Gore testifies to Congress about the dangers of climate change and warns of a “planetary emergency.” Invoking the 300 Spartans who fought at Thermopylae, Gore calls upon “the 535” members of Congress to act, so that one day they might say they “defended civilization’s gate.” He leaves out the part about the Spartans dying gruesome deaths at the hands the Persians. In his rebuttal, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., calls global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” and displays a photograph of icicles to prove it: “Where is global warming when you really need it?” he says. There’s this movie Inhofe should check out.

How Would Orwell Vote?
2008. Grassroots politics scores a coup with an anti-Hillary mashup of an old 1984-themed Apple Macintosh ad. The clip shows a revolutionary Obama supporter destroying a JumboTron that displays Hillary’s yammering mug—all set in a freakish, dystopian future unimaginable to anyone who hasn’t seen a Democratic National Convention. The video’s creator reveals himself on the Huffington Post as a former employee of a digital media company affiliated with Obama’s campaign. Look for his next Orwellian ad, featuring Hillary as a talking pig.

Order on the Court
Sports. With Maryland and GWU knocked out, the District invests its NCAA dreams in Georgetown, which slips into the Elite Eight with a last-second win against Vanderbilt.  Memphis ekes out a victory against Texas A&M, UCLA defeats Pittsburgh, and Ohio State comes back from a 17-point halftime deficit to beat Tennessee.

The FBI Knows You’re Reading This
Crime. A DoJ official adds his testimony to an ongoing investigation of the FBI for illicitly collecting records from phone companies, banks, and credit institutions by issuing “national security letters”—legalese for “gimme.” The official attributed the estimated 3,000 violations since 2003 to “mistakes, carelessness, confusion, sloppiness, lack of training,” and all the other things you look for in a federal agency. 

Black Hawk Down 2: Return to Mogadishu
Africa. Supporters of Somalia’s ousted Islamic leadership drag the bloodied bodies of four soldiers through the streets of Mogadishu, resurrecting memories of America’s disastrous mission in 1993. Further south, Zimbabwean opposition leaders join talks in South Africa to discuss countering the increasingly violent presidency of Robert Mugabe. Zambia’s president calls Zimbabwe “a sinking Titanic.” That, plus a quarter of its passengers have AIDS and semi-automatics.

Zucker to Murdoch: “I Do”
Business. In the unlikeliest marriage since Carville and Matalin, NBC and News Corp. announce a joint online video venture to rival sites like YouTube. You’d sooner expect Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly to start making out on air. YouTube, meanwhile, after being sued by Viacom for $1 billion, is banking its survival on America’s love for bad lip synching and kittens traversing Casio keyboards.