What Washington is talking about this week.

What Washington is talking about.
Jan. 20 2007 7:07 AM

Zeitgeist Checklist: Barack Obama, Presidential Explorer

What Washington is talking about this week.

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1. Last week: 1 Weeks on list: 30 [SAME]

Talk About a Botched Execution! Iraq. Critics express outrage over another botched execution, as Saddam Hussein's half-brother is decapitated by his noose. How is that a botched execution? If Hussein's half-brother had expressed outrage, that would've been a botched execution. Still, President Bush says the incident shows that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government "still has some maturation to do." Maliki vows that someday his government will be mature enough to blunder into a foreign quagmire to prove he's tougher than his dad.

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2. New This Week! [UP ARROW]

We'll All Be Grateful in January 2009
White House. In an interview Wednesday night on PBS'NewsHour, Bush says average Americans have made sacrifices during the war because they "sacrifice peace of mind" when they watch TV. Especially Americans who watched NewsHour on Wednesday night. Bush also suggests that Iraqis aren't grateful enough to Americans. That's not a joke. He really said that.

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3. New This Week! [UP ARROW]

Edna Doesn't Balance Her Budget, Either
Surveillance. The Bush administration finally agrees to stop its warrantless wiretapping of Americans but defends its new program to snoop around their financial records. Vice President Cheney says the program is vital to national security and adds that Edna J. Fleischman of Grand Forks, N.D., really didn't have to pay so much for that muffler.

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4. Last week: 8 Weeks on list: 11 [UP ARROW]

White House Dogcatcher? White House Brie-Taster?
2008. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., announces that he's forming a presidential exploratory committee but confuses supporters by vowing "to be the best Joe Biden I can be." And Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., says he's considering another run for the White House. That's not a joke, either. Well, it is, but he did say it.

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5. New This Week [UP ARROW]

How Do You Say "Baba Booey" in Mandarin? Space. China shoots down a satellite with a ground-based missile, triggering protests from rival nations that fear a new space-based arms race and from a billion Chinese who can no longer listen to Howard Stern.

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

Somebody Loan This Guy a Clue
Democrats. House Democrats complete their 100-hour agenda, passing bills to lower student-loan rates, eliminate oil-industry giveaways, and let the government negotiate with drug companies. Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, scoffs that Democrats are just passing easy bills with overwhelming public support, which explains why so many Republicans voted against them and why Bush has threatened to veto them.

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

Hell Seems Unseasonably Chilly, Too
Pentagon. Legal advocates demand an apology from a Bush administration official who attacked attorneys for Guantanamo Bay detainees—and he provides it! What's next, a confession from O.J.? A serious acting award for Eddie Murphy? Ethics reform in Congress? Yes, it has been an odd week.

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8. New This Week [UP ARROW]

It's Hard To Be Impartial About a Man Named Scooter
Crime. The defense delays jury selection in the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby trial, objecting to any potential jurors with negative feelings about the Bush administration. The judge agrees to limit the jury to members of the Ijaw, Ovimbundu, Ariaal, and other isolated tribes without negative feelings about the administration, but Libby insists on a jury of his peers, consisting solely of faceless bureaucrats responsible for geopolitical catastrophes.

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

Maybe He Should Wear a Zero on His Shirt
Sports. Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas, Washington's most exciting athlete in years, drops another 50-point game. Fans love how Arenas shouts "Hibachi!" every time he launches a three, to announce that he's heating up. Maybe Bush should shout "Bordello!" every time he launches a policy.

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10. New This Week [UP ARROW]

He's Dying Out There!
Death. Legendary Washington Post humor columnist Art Buchwald, his comic timing unimpeded by the mere fact of his expiration, announces in a video obituary: "Hi, I'm Art Buchwald, and I just died." Buchwald's passing is a reminder of the bygone days when journalists were beloved, and Washington Post humor columns were humorous.

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