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The Weekly Show

Stephen Colbert edits Newsweek.

Newsweek, June 15 Guest Editor Stephen Colbert explains why this week’s issue focuses on Iraq: “Turns out there are still 135,000 troops in Iraq, which I don’t understand because we’ve already won the war.” He also describes his process: “I set the editorial agenda, assigned stories and yelled at Peter Parker to get me more photos of that web-slinging vigilante, Spider-Man. He’s a menace!” One article traces Shiite Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s recent efforts to lessen Iran’s influence all the way back to its source: Iran’s forcible reorganization, in the early 1980s, of Maliki’s Islamic Dawa Party into the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. At the time, Maliki and others stayed with Dawa. Now, the prime minister is threatening to form a mixed coalition with Sunni parties after next year’s elections, which “would bring Iraq that much closer to national reconciliation, and push the country that much further outside Iran’s ambit.”

Weekly Standard, June 15 The cover story offers a close read of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s infamous 2001 speech at Berkeley. The phrase about the “wise Latina woman” who “would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male” is, the author argues, “not an off-the-cuff indiscretion, but an accurate summary of 4,000 words of disdain for judicial impartiality.” “A distillation of the most extreme views of the liberal civil rights establishment,” the speech engages in “bean-counting” and quotas, because Sotomayor’s aim in forming a judicial branch “is not to remove racial or ethnic bias from judging, but to make sure the right bias is given voice—secured by increased numbers of minority judges.” Fred Barnes accuses President Barack Obama of “impeding … increased production of oil and gas.” Even doubled over three years, wind and solar would remain “marginal sources” of energy. Yet Obama has advocated de-incentivizing gas production and raising corporate tax rates, and his Interior Department has rejected numerous leases.

New York, June 15
A profile of recently appointed Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand follows her reintroduction to voters after past conservative positions on immigration and guns, and a first 100 days “marred by policy flip-flops [and] threats from political rivals.” Gillibrand can come across as a “young woman in a hurry”—her earlier move to an upstate congressional district was “carefully calculated.” But Gillibrand looks likely to be re-elected in 2010 thanks to New York’s powerful senior senator—“It’s [Chuck] Schumer, more than anyone, who is responsible for Gillibrand’s relaunch.” An article on implantable cardioverter-defibrillators notes that Aaron Lazar, the frontman for “punk-metal” band the Giraffes, who got his ICD after an almost-fatal heart attack, finds his activities restricted. At one concert, the device administered a shock “when [Lazar’s] heart rate hit 192 beats per minute, the tempo of the song ‘Sugarbomb.’ “

Vanity Fair, July Michael Wolff reports on the Obama administration’s clever, paradoxical press strategy: “[T]he keynote affect of this most brilliant and successful and certainly calculated White House press operation is, We’re artless, really. Pay no attention to what we’re doing here—it ain’t nothin’ much.” The confluence of Obama’s still-astonishing popularity, the decline of mainstream-media “dinosaurs,” and the advent of Twitter and other social networks has created a dynamic where “[t]he New York Times, and the rest of the established press, needs Barack Obama a lot more than he needs them.” A dispatch from the Hamptons finds that “something more fundamental than prices has dropped with the times. The outrushing of money from the Hamptons … has left a stench, like pond-bottom muck, of fear, anger, and quiet desperation.” Builders and storeowners have been hit along with the titans. “A less tangible sense of fin d’une époque may be more to blame” than mere financial problems.

Rolling Stone, June 11 An article discusses the efforts of a few superwealthy families—Wal-Mart’s Waltons, Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen—to raise the estate tax’s eligibility level and lower the tax itself, letting “the children of Wall Street barons, dot-com millionaires and wealthy industrialists pocket more than $90 billion in tax revenues over the next decade.” The movement recast “the death tax” and implied that it covered a wider swath, such that, in 2000, 17 percent of Americans thought it applied to them, when only 2 percent actually faced it. Even Obama “is not exactly a liberal crusader” on the issue. Late-night-cum-prime-time host Jay Leno is interviewed. He explains of his new show’s start time, “10 seemed to be turning into the new 11:30.” He defends his brand of broadly appealing, largely inoffensive humor: “The big mistake is you’re a comedian, then you’re a humorist, then you’re a social satirist, then you’re out of show business.”