What Washington is talking about this week.

What Washington is talking about.
Feb. 17 2007 6:26 AM

Zeitgeist Checklist: Zeitgeist Hearts You

What Washington is talking about this week.

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1. New This Week [UP ARROW]

This One Will Take a Lot More Than 16 Words
Iran. President Bush asserts that the elite Iranian Quds Force has been supplying Iraqi Shiites with "explosively formed penetrators"—the most terrifying-sounding weapon since the garrote. Iran denies all knowledge, responsibility, and, for good measure, the Holocaust. Bush insists this is not a pretext for war, as the pre-Iraq WMD claims were. The difference: These weapons actually exist.

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2. Last Week: 4 Weeks on List: 5 [UP ARROW]

Libby Defense Rests Its Case—or What's Left of It
Crime. Scooter Libby's defense team rests its case after ushering in an all-star cast of journalists, including Bob Novak, the guy who started it all but somehow came out unscathed. One former aide testifies Libby had an "awful memory"—bad enough to unwittingly commit perjury but good enough to be chief of staff to the vice president of the United States. On Valentine's Day, the jury arrives wearing red shirts decorated with hearts—that is, every juror but one. If the jury can't even reach a unanimous verdict about holiday fashion, the defense may just have a chance.

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3. New This Week [UP ARROW]

Ice, Ice, Baby
Weather. Blustery snowstorms complicate Valentine's Day (even further) for everyone but school kids, who get to spend the day at home gorging on ungifted candy hearts. At least 13 deaths are blamed on the storms, although that's before adjusting for broken hearts. With District-area schools and businesses incapacitated, snow snobs everywhere agree it's time to move the capital back to Philly.

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4. New This Week [UP ARROW]

Spontaneity: Never a Good Idea
Obama. Sen. Barack Obama retracts his comment that the lives of more than 3,000 American soldiers have been "wasted." Sen. Joe Biden retracts his comment about Obama being "articulate."

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5. Last Week: 6 Weeks on List: 34 [UP ARROW]

Safer Sects
Iraq. The Iraqi government announces a major security upgrade, including an earlier curfew in Baghdad. Insurgents caught outside after 8 p.m. will be grounded, with the possibility of water-boarding. Also, Iraq temporarily closes off its borders with Syria and Iran. Sounds like a job for some explosively formed penetrators.

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6. New This Week [UP ARROW]

Splitting Hairs, Atoms
North Korea. Kim Jong-il tentatively agrees to close down his main nuclear reactor and readmit inspectors in exchange for oil—a deal that could take North Korea off a list of terrorist regimes and reduce the axis of evil to a mere partnership. Conservatives from Elliott Abrams to the National Review accuse Bush of putting too much faith in Dear Leader. Others start wearing "What Would Rumsfeld Do?" bracelets.

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7. Last Week: 7 Weeks on List: 15 [SAME]

Historic First: Bloggers Have Something To Resign From
2008. Al Franken announces he will run for U.S. Senate. Look for an upcoming SNL hosting gig, in which Franken does impressions of himself. After John Edwards refuses to fire two campaign bloggers for their controversial writings, they resign anyway.

Amanda Marcotte, whose blog comments were criticized as being anti-Catholic, blames the "right wing noise machine" for pushing her out but thanks it for giving her more opportunities to sleep till noon.

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8. Last Week: 2 Weeks on List: 4 [DOWN ARROW]

The Ties That Don't Bind
Congress. The House approves a bipartisan rebuke to Bush's troop surge in Iraq, with Democrats backing a resolution that wouldn't cut off funds but would limit Bush's ability to spend them. In a rare act of deference, Bush concedes Congress has the power of the purse, as long as Nancy Pelosi doesn't hit him with it. In the Senate, Harry Reid derails everyone's weekend by scheduling a Saturday debate. Senators pray for snow.

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9. New This Week [UP ARROW]

Maybe It's Time Bush Did That Soul-Peering Thing Again
Russia. President Vladimir Putin slams the United States at a Munich conference for what he calls its unilateral approach to foreign affairs. NATO expansion isn't cool, either: It makes bullying small Eastern European countries frustratingly hard. Top Bush administration officials met with Russian dissident and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, who urged them not to listen to Putin or his top adviser, Deep Blue.

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10. New This Week [UP ARROW]

Please Don't Let This Show Be Daily
Television. Fox News unveils clips of its upcoming 1/2 Hour News Hour, a comedy program pitched as The Daily Show for people who find The Daily Show too entertaining. One sketch imagines a United States with Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter as president and VP. We'd rather go a half hour with the explosively formed penetrator.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.