What Washington is talking about this week.

What Washington is talking about.
Dec. 16 2006 7:59 AM

Zeitgeist Checklist, Earmark-Free Edition

What Washington is talking about this week.

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1. Last week: 1 Weeks on list: 25 [FLAT]

Sadr Every Week
Iraq. With violence escalating, and his approval ratings dwindling to the low 30s, President Bush finally agrees to seek a diversity of opinions about Iraq, as long as they all coincide with his. Bush apparently plans to send even more troops to Iraq, and if that doesn't get him down to single digits, he plans to ask Mark Foley to send more text messages to congressional pages.

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2. New This Week [UP ARROW]

We Also Care About Justice Stevens
Illness. Republicans and Democrats send their best wishes to Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., whose condition after brain surgery may determine control of the Senate. They all insist that they're not even thinking about politics, that they only care about Sen. Jackson, or Johnston, or whatever his name is. After watching a videotape of the patient, physician and outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., issues his diagnosis: The GOP lives!

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3. Last week: - Weeks on list: 1 [UP ARROW]

Who's Disappeared Now?
Death. Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the corrupt dictator renowned for making dissidents disappear, dies before he can face trial. The Zeitgeist has a feeling Pinochet is going somewhere that won't be so Chile.

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4. Last week: - Weeks on list: 1 [UP ARROW]

Sign of the Apocalypto
Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hosts a conference for people who think the Holocaust never happened—not that there would have been anything wrong with that! Afterward, he insists he never said that Israel should be destroyed, never served as a consultant to James Baker on the Iraq Study Group, and never warned Mel Gibson to watch out for Jews on the California Highway Patrol.

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5. Last week: 3 Weeks on list: 12 [DOWN ARROW]

Failure of Intelligence
Democrats. Incoming Senate appropriations chairman Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., stuns his colleagues by accepting a one-year moratorium on earmarks. It will be known as the Robert C. Byrd Earmark Moratorium, and scholars will study it for decades at the Robert C. Byrd Center for Earmark Analysis. Meanwhile, incoming House intelligence chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, flubs a quiz on Iraqi sects. Here's a quick primer, congressman: The Sunnis hate the Shiites. The Shiites hate the Sunnis. And they all hate us.

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6. Last week: 6 Weeks on list: 6 [FLAT]

Political Football
2008. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., appeals to male voters with a guest spot on ESPN's Monday Night Football. Expect Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., to appear soon on Oxygen or Lifetime, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, to show up on the SciFi Channel. Kucinich proclaims himself a serious candidate for the Democratic nomination, but refuses to explain why his campaign slogan remains "Just Here for the Bud Light."

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7. New This Week [UP ARROW]

"I loved it!" – Mel Gibson
Middle East. Former President Jimmy Carter defends his best-selling new book, which blames most of the problems in the Middle East on Israel. He's now planning a sequel, which blames most of the problems in Ishtar on some assistant producer named Mordecai Rabinowitz. In other news, Ahmadinejad insists he's never worked as a presidential ghostwriter.

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8. Last week: 8 Weeks on list: 2 [FLAT]

The Unkindest Cut
Health. A new study suggests that circumcision may reduce HIV transmission rates by as much as 50 percent, the first evidence that removing the foreskin can prevent sexually transmitted diseases. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation immediately funds the fledgling relief group Mohels Without Borders.

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9. Last week: - Weeks on list: 1 [UP ARROW]

Did Hillary Want Fashion Advice?
Royalty. Revelations in British tabloids about the Clinton administration wiretapping Princess Diana turn out to be false. Right-wingers who seized on the breathless reports to attack the Clinton family swiftly and profusely apologize for fanning the flames of a bogus scandal. After which the Redskins win nine straight, Baghdad becomes a popular tourist destination, and Mel Gibson founds a Malibu chapter of B'nai B'rith.

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10. Last week: - Weeks on list: 1 [UP ARROW]

Backdoor Cut and Run
Sports. NBA Commissioner David Stern ends his league's disastrous experiment with a lousy new synthetic ball, admitting his mistake and bringing back the old leather ball. His PR strategy is dismissed by Bush, who thinks Stern should stay the course with the lousy ball and force his successor to make the choice to ditch it, and by Ahmadinejad, who thinks Stern should insist that the new ball never happened.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.