The Zeitgeist Checklist

Zeitgeist Checklist: Karl Rove Rap Edition

What Washington is talking about this week.

Fire Department
Law. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales spends the week trying to put out fires, but someone has filled the hose with butane. Gonzales sits down with NBC in order to “be more precise” (read: equivocate some more) about his supposed noninvolvement in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys. His former chief of staff, testifying before the Senate judiciary committee, gets a little too precise and explicitly contradicts his former boss’s account. Aides to Gonzales remove all shoelaces and belts from his office.

War Chest Thumping
Congress. The battle between Congress and President Bush escalates as the Senate narrowly passes an Iraq funding bill that would withdraw troops by the end of March 2008. Bush chides Senate Democrats for attaching strings to the war money; Dems accuse Bush, who plans to veto the bill, of delaying funding for troops—childish bickering that gives new meaning to next week’s “recess.”

2008. Buzz builds around Arthur “Fred Thompson” Branch, the ubiquitous Law & Order star who once worked in the Senate or something. Branch, er, Thompson hasn’t announced his candidacy yet, but he’s already leading Mitt Romney in the polls. That gap will shrink, however, when America finds out about Thompson’s early-career appearance on Roseanne.

Glock and Spiel
Crime. An aide to Sen. Jim Webb is arrested for carrying a loaded gun and extra ammunition into a Senate building. Webb, a former expert marksman who openly flaunts his gun license, denies giving his aide the gun and blames the incident on him. In another downright criminal act, Karl Rove participates in an ill-advised rap performance at the Washington radio and television correspondents’ dinner. (Watch it and you’ll understand why Jim Webb carries a gun.) John McCain considers recording a dis track about Giuliani.

War of the Google Maps
Middle East. After Iran seized 15 British soldiers in what it claims were Iranian waters, Prime Minister Tony Blair freezes relations with Iran. Iran demands that Britain admit it was wrong. Blair refuses, insisting the soldiers were 1.7 miles within Iraqi waters. The U.N. Security Council declares its “grave concern” over the cartographic dispute. Analysts agree this is the lamest hostage crisis ever.

Kangaroo Court
Terrorism. Australian Guantanamo detainee David Hicks pleads guilty to providing material support for terrorism, becoming the first prisoner to be convicted under the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Hicks, who could be sentenced to up to seven years, may have to serve his time back on that other lawless, God-forsaken island: Australia.

Four Play
Sports. Washington braces itself as Georgetown reaches the Final Four for the first time since Iran-Contra. The other semifinal game: a grudge match between Florida, the reigning champions, and UCLA, still smarting from their loss to the Gators last year.

Iraq. A series of sectarian attacks threatens to jumpstart the ongoing civil war. A truck bomb explodes in a Shiite district; Shiite gunmen go door to door executing Sunnis in Tall Afar; suicide bombs and car bombs shred crowds, killing nearly 100 in one day. Maybe that’s what John McCain means when he says we’re “starting to turn things around.” Meanwhile, the Green Zone gets pummeled by rockets and mortars day after day. Commanders propose retaliation in the form of a Karl Rove concert.

Cancer Spreads Across Party Lines
Health. White House press secretary Tony Snow announces that his colon cancer has returned and spread to his liver. What with Elizabeth Edwards’ announcement last week, cancer has shown itself to be remarkably nonpartisan and will likely endorse Unity08. Elsewhere, officials from the World Health Organization suggest that circumcisions could prevent 5.7 million AIDS infections in Africa over the next 20 years. Legions of carpet-bagging mohels book the Brooklyn-Khartoum flights.

Exhibit A
Corruption. Smithsonian chief Lawrence Small resigns over what one senator calls his “Dom Perignon lifestyle.” As the institute’s most successful fund-raiser ever, Small clearly wanted a few more perks than free IMAX tickets. He doesn’t get a severance package, but those $2 million in housing and office expenses over the last six years should do him just fine.