What Washington is talking about this week.

What Washington is talking about.
Aug. 5 2006 8:10 AM

The Zeitgeist Checklist

What Washington is talking about this week.

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1. Last week: 1 Weeks on list: 4, Hard UP arrow

Opportunity of a Lifetime!
Middle East. Fighting intensifies in Lebanon as dozens of innocents die, but President Bush senses a "moment of opportunity." Linguists note that in Chinese, the character for "opportunity" also means "quagmire." And "Hezbollah" means "Party of Mel Gibson."

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2. REAPPEARING, Hard UP arrow

It's Getting Hot in Here
Weather. Triple-digit temperatures bake the capital, straining the power grid and forcing Congress to dim its lights halfway. Policy experts ask: Why not all the way? The nationwide heat wave fires up the debate over global warming as climatologists blame the problem on carbon emissions. Mel Gibson blames the Jews.

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3. Last week: 2 Weeks on list: 6, Hard DOWN arrow

Brinksmanship
Iraq. Army Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East, says Iraq is on the brink of civil war. Abizaid also says the insurgency has "a lot of resiliency," which linguists note is not a synonym for "in its last throes." Meanwhile, International Crisis Group calls July "the grimmest month for conflict prevention around the world," citing crises in North Korea, Somalia, and Sudan, as well as the Middle East. Mel Gibson's publicist claims he meant to blame all this bloodshed on "the Druze."

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4. NEW THIS WEEK, Hard UP arrow

The Passion of the Schnook
Mel-tdown. Drunken-driver Mel Gibson offers provocative theory that "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." A brief furor erupts when it is revealed that police cleaned up the arresting officer's report, particularly the part where Gibson elaborated on Jewish aggression in the Punic Wars, the War of Jenkins' Ear, and the defeat of the Persians at Thermopylae, which Gibson claimed "involved a couple of guys named Goldfarb." Still, Gibson insists he is not an anti-Semite, blaming his tirade on his struggles with alcoholism and depression, and also on his hatred of Jews.

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5. NEW THIS WEEK, Hard UP arrow

Weekend at Fidel's
Cuba. Fidel Castro fails to appear in public after surgery. The government says his condition is a state secret, but some Cuba watchers wonder whether that condition is "dead." Other Cuba watchers are starting to suspect that Mel Gibson will join a minyan and memorize the Talmud before Fidel kicks the bucket.

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6. NEW THIS WEEK, Hard UP arrow
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Going Nuclear
Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejects a U.N. resolution calling on Iran to stop enriching uranium and warns that sanctions would only produce $200-a-barrel oil prices. But he says he's still willing to talk. Why, just the other day he was chatting about the Holocaust with his pal Mel Gibson …

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7. NEW THIS WEEK, Hard UP arrow

Quality Was Job One
Cars. Ford Motor Co. is outsold by Toyota for the first time, announces a $250 million loss, and recalls a million vehicles to prevent their engines from catching fire. Analysts say CEO Bill Ford Jr. needs to re-create Henry Ford's culture of consistent excellence, just as he has done with the Detroit Lions. Mel Gibson says the company needs to re-create Henry Ford's culture of anti-Semitism.

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8. Reappearing, Flat arrow

Losing His Mo-Joe?
Democrats. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., continues to fight for his political life before his primary, attacking a blogger who portrays him in blackface. Challenger Ned Lamont tries to stick to the issues, especially Lieberman's staunch support for the war in Iraq. Mel Gibson says he'd like to comment, but really, really shouldn't.

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9. Last week: 5 Weeks on list: 3 Flat arrow

Cafeteria Conservatism
Republicans. GOP lawmakers finally agree to a $2 raise in the minimum wage, on the condition that Democrats accept huge cuts to the estate tax for millionaires. Republicans also agree to let the House cafeteria stop pretending its french fries are "freedom fries," as long as Democrats accept more huge cuts to the estate tax for millionaires. Meanwhile, Republicans worry that they could face dramatic losses at the polls in November if Democrats gets their act together. Which could happen as soon as Mel Gibson is named grand rabbi of the Lubavitchers.

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10. NEW THIS WEEK Hard UP arrow

Not a Stumble—An Opportunity!
Pratfalls. In metaphorical news, during yet another tough week in his presidency, Bush nearly falls down the stairs of Air Force One. At least he doesn't blame his problems on the "[expletive]-ing Jews."

The Zeitgeist Checklist also appears in the Washington Post's Outlook section.

Michael Grunwald, a staff reporter for the Washington Post, is the author of The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise.

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