What Washington is talking about this week.

What Washington is talking about.
Dec. 8 2006 6:38 PM

Zeitgeist Checklist, Iraq Study Group Edition

What Washington is talking about this week.

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1. Last week: 1 Weeks on list: 24 [FLAT ARROW]
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Grave Is the Operative Word
Iraq. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group declares the situation "grave and deteriorating," a finding nearly as surprising as the recent Rick James Study Group report declaring the singer "unresponsive." But the ISG does not recommend immediate troop withdrawals, instead urging talks with Syria and Iran, "national reconciliation" in Iraq, and an emergency shipment of magic pixie dust for the entire Middle East.

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2. Last week: 6  Weeks on list: 2 [UP ARROW]

Sideshow Bob
Pentagon. Robert Gates, President Bush's new defense secretary, is hailed for his straight talk and is swiftly confirmed after testifying that the United States isn't winning the war in Iraq. The reality-based bar is pretty low these days; the Senate tells Gates that he can also be secretary of state if he'll just admit that the Redskins won't make the playoffs.

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3. Last week: 2 Weeks on list: 11 [DOWN ARROW]

House of Pain
Democrats. The incoming House leadership announces the end of the three-day congressional workweek. The last Congress produced the biggest corruption scandals since the Teapot Dome working Tuesday to Thursday; just think what they'll achieve on a full-time basis. But outraged Republicans complain that keeping politicians in Washington five days a week will strain marriages. How about keeping troops in Iraq seven days a week?

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4. New This Week [UP ARROW]

Maybe We Should Try Sanctions First
Space. Continuing to push the boundaries of human ingenuity, NASA announces that by 2020 it plans to reach … the moon! What's next? A pill to prevent women from getting pregnant? Meanwhile, new photos indicate liquid water—and therefore, possible life—on Mars. The bipartisan Mars Study Group promptly suggests that minus-257-degree temperatures could make vacationing there "uncomfortable," but urges the Bush administration to hold talks with Mercury and Uranus before making any decisions.

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5. New This Week [UP ARROW]

Don't Laugh or Grandpa Will Shoot
Society. Religious conservatives express outrage at news that Mary Cheney is having a baby out of wedlock, and urge her to get married. What? They didn't urge her to get married? But the Zeitgeist thought they were religious conservatives …

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6. Last week: 9 Weeks on list: 5 [UP ARROW]

This Bodes Ill for John Wayne Gacy Edwards
2008. As Hillary Rodham Clinton starts preparing to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, Republicans start pointing out that the full name of her top competitor is Barack Hussein Obama. The Zeitgeist has a feeling that even if his name were Barack Hussein Hitler Stalin Milosevic Satan Osama Obama, Republicans would still prefer to face Hillary in the general election.

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7. New This Week [UP ARROW]

Turtle Bray
United Nations. John Bolton, Bush's much-maligned ambassador to the United Nations, says he will leave the administration when his recess appointment expires. He explains that, as a longtime bully, he had expected recess to be more fun. Bush now plans to appoint someone more skilled in the diplomatic arts, such as Michael Richards.

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8. New This Week [UP ARROW]

Yo No Quiero Taco Bell
Health. Taco Bell removed green onions from its 5,800 restaurants after an E. coli outbreak caused dozens of customers to get even sicker than they usually get after eating at Taco Bell. The bipartisan Taco Bell Study Group describes their reactions as "unpleasant," but recommends that Americans should keep eating chalupas until at least 2008.

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9. New This Week [UP ARROW]

Does This Count As a Civil War?
Fiji. A military dictatorship seizes power on the tiny resort island of Fiji, and the resulting chaos devastates the nation's tourist economy. Bush's new U.N. ambassador, Donald Rumsfeld, promptly urges peacekeeping troops to be sent to Madagascar.

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10. New This Week [UP ARROW]

It's Set in the Jewcatan
Celebrities. Zeitgeist favorite Mel Gibson releases his blood-soaked new movie, Apocalypto, a Mayan epic that makes Braveheart look like Herbie the Love Bug. Critics praise the brutally realistic depiction of warring indigenous tribes but question whether the conflict was really started by a guy named Shlomo Finkelstein.

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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