What Washington is talking about this week.

What Washington is talking about.
Feb. 9 2007 7:23 PM

Zeitgeist Checklist, Adult Diapers Edition

What Washington is talking about this week.

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1. New This Week [UP ARROW]

Lust in Space Space. Astronaut Lisa Nowak faces charges for attempted murder after driving nearly 1,000 miles to confront a rival for the affections of another astronaut. The legend-making detail: She wore a diaper while driving so she wouldn't have to stop to use the restroom. Now that's the kind of innovation that wins space races. (Meanwhile, the astronaut who sets a U.S. spacewalking record goes unnoticed.)

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2. Last Week: 1 Weeks on List: 3 [DOWN ARROW]

Surge Protectors Congress. The Senate hits an embarrassing impasse when Republicans refuse to debate a nonbinding resolution criticizing a troop surge in Iraq. Joining the Republican opposition is John Warner, who, um, wrote the bill. Warner, suspecting this might not look so good, rallies seven Republicans to push once again for debate. And they say Congress never gets anything done.

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3. Last Week: 5 Weeks on List: 2 [UP ARROW]

Dyed Knockout Knocked Out, Died Death. Playboy centerfold, champion golddigger, Supreme Court plaintiff, and reality TV disaster Anna Nicole Smith dies in a Florida hotel. As for cause of death, Smith's mother speculates it was drug-related, but we've got our money on "exposure." First Molly Ivins, now Anna: A devastating one-two punch to Texas feminism.

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4. Last Week: 7 Weeks on List: 4 [UP ARROW]

De-fense! (Stomp-stomp-stomp) De-fense!
Crime. It's a week of milestones at the Libby trial: First, the jury sits through eight hours of audiotapes of Scooter Libby's grand jury testimony without falling asleep. Then a witness, Tim Russert, actually recalls a conversation. They say miracles come in threes—next thing you know, Scooter will get off with a wrist slap and two days of community service. Highlight of the week: Defense attorney asking Russert if he thinks prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is Santa Claus. Russert resents the implication that he's a lump of coal.

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5. New This Week [UP ARROW]

Straight Out of Rehab Sexuality. A minister overseeing the recovery of Ted Haggard announces that after three weeks of counseling, the fallen reverend is "completely heterosexual." The proof: For three weeks, Haggard did not have sex with a meth-dealing former male prostitute. Case closed. In other news, gay rights activists applaud former NBA center John Amaechi's decision to come out in an upcoming book. But did he really have to call it Man in the Middle?

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6. Last Week: 2 Weeks on List: 33 [DOWN ARROW]

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Cash
Iraq. A Marine transport helicopter crashes near Baghdad—the sixth such disaster in three weeks. The accident coincides with the implementation of a new Baghdad security plan, which apparently doesn't account for insurgents with guns that aim up. Back home, House Dems slam former CPA chief L. Paul Bremer for sending more than $4 billion to Iraq in massive wooden pallets of $100 bills weighing more than 363 tons. He reassures them it was just meant to fill his Green Zone swimming pool.

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7. Last Week: 3 Weeks on List: 14 [DOWN ARROW]

Spend Early, Spend Often
2008. In an ambitious move, Hillary launches a campaign to raise $75 million by 2008. Equally ambitious: Sen. Chris Dodd keeping the dream alive for another week. Sen. Barack Obama, meanwhile, flirts with the option of accepting public funds if he receives the Democratic nomination, but doesn't commit. The man has never ruled out an option in his life. We're pretty sure there's still a folder marked "Falwell-Obama '08" somewhere in his office. Speaking of clean candidates, John Edwards takes flak for his lavish $4.2 million estate, complete with six-and-a-half baths.

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8. New This Week [UP ARROW]

The Gaza Accords
Middle East. Hamas and Fatah sign a power-sharing agreement to control the Palestinian Authority. The international community will lift sanctions as long as the Palestinians recognize Israel, respect peace treaties, and maybe chill out with the democratic elections for a while.

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9. New This Week [UP ARROW]

The Question Is, What Can't the Budget Do?
Budget. President Bush presents a plan that would balance the budget in five years and expand military spending without raising taxes. It will also cure cancer, end global warming, feed the five thousand, and restore the American people's faith in this administration. Who are we kidding—scratch that last one.

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10. New This Week [UP ARROW]

Fuselage-Measuring Contest
White House. The White House intervenes on behalf of Nancy Pelosi (yes, you read that right) when the speaker requests permission to fly home on a plane that is bigger than former Speaker Dennis Hastert's. Dubbing the plane "Air Force Three," House Republicans oppose the request on grounds that it's an extravagant burden on the government. Seriously, if she wants a plane, she should really just ask a lobbyist.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

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