What Washington is talking about this week.

What Washington is talking about.
Dec. 30 2006 6:31 AM

Zeitgeist Checklist, Jerry Ford Edition

What Washington is talking about this week.

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1. A Mixed Legacy
New This Week [UP ARROW]

President Ford. America mourns Gerald Ford, its only leader before 2000 to reach the White House without being elected president or vice president. He was a man of decency and civility, he helped heal the nation after Watergate, and he got America out of its last overseas quagmire. The Commander in Chief Upstairs will surely pardon him for hiring Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

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2. Our Long National Nightmare Isn't Over
Last week: 1 Weeks on list: 27 [DOWN ARROW]

Iraq. Bob Woodward reports that Ford thought the war in Iraq was a costly mistake, and didn't think "we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people." President Bush responds that Ford clearly misunderstood his goals; the idea is to go hellfire damnation around the globe killing people.

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3. Is It OK If We Still Hate You?
New This Week [UP ARROW]
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Hussein. In a surprising pre-execution letter to the Iraqi people, Saddam Hussein calls for an end to all hatred, and urges his countrymen not to blame Americans for invading their nation. In a less surprising pre-execution interview with Woodward, he says he agrees that the war in Iraq was a costly mistake.

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4. Feckless Is the New Ruthless
New This Week [UP ARROW]

Democrats. After enduring 12 powerless years under ruthless GOP rule, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., vows to extend the hand of friendship to the minority. Grateful Republicans vow to chop off that hand, run it through a Cuisinart, and bake it into "freedom fries" that they will shove down her whiny little throat.

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5. What Could Possibly Go Wrong in Somalia?
New This Week [UP ARROW]

Somalia. Ethiopian troops invade Somalia, and chaos reigns in defenseless Mogadishu. In an emergency call from the golf course, Rumsfeld urges Bush to invade Lithuania.

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6. Player Haters
Last week: 7 Weeks on list: 2 [UP ARROW]

Crime. Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong drops rape charges against three Duke University lacrosse players, but vows to prosecute them anyway for "that snotty look on their faces" and "that stupid preppy sport they play." Defense lawyers file an ethics complaint against Nifong, who responds by indicting them for "making more money than the Durham County district attorney."

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7. At Least He's No Longer a Fresh Face
Last week: 5 Weeks on list: 8 [DOWN ARROW]

2008. Former Sen. John Edwards, running mate in John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, announces his White House candidacy in New Orleans, the site of America's worst disaster since John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. The last time he ran for president, Edwards was hurt by his lack of experience, but that shouldn't be a problem this time, because he's spent the past three years doing nothing but running for president.

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8. Get On Up!
Last week: 8 Weeks on list: 3 [FLAT]

Death. James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, don't feel good anymore. But he'll be remembered as the primary influence on R&B, funk, and Al Sharpton's hair.

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9. Or Whatever Else They May Find
Last week: 3 Weeks on list: 2 [DOWN ARROW]

Climate. The Bush administration, after years of denial about global warming, lists the polar bear as a threatened species, warning that its icy habitat is in danger of melting. In a bold effort to save the beloved predator from extinction, the administration announces plans to let Exxon Mobil drill for polar bears in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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10. The Mogadishu of the NFL
Last week: 6 Weeks on list: 3 [DOWN ARROW]

Sports. The Washington Redskins finish a year that was slightly better than Bush's but slightly worse than Ford's. Coach Joe Gibbs admits he probably shouldn't have listened so carefully to his friend Mike Nifong, who told him it didn't really matter whether he had a strong defense.

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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