The Zeitgeist Checklist BY MICHAEL GRUNWALD

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Sunday, August 6, 2006

OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME!

Last week: 1 Weeks on list: 4

1Middle East. Fighting intensifies in Lebanon, as dozens of innocents die, but President Bush senses a "moment of opportunity." Linguists note that in Chinese, the character for "opportunity" also means "quagmire." And "Hezbollah" means "Party of Mel Gibson."

IT'S GETTING HOT IN HERE

Last week: -- Weeks on list: 1

2Weather. Triple-digit temperatures bake the capital, straining the power grid, forcing Congress to dim its lights halfway. Policy experts ask: Why not all the way? The nationwide heat wave fires up the debate over global warming, as climatologists blame the problem on carbon emissions. Mel Gibson blames the Jews.

BRINKSMANSHIP

Last week: 2 Weeks on list: 6

3Iraq. Army Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East, says Iraq is on the brink of civil war. Abizaid also says the insurgency has "a lot of resiliency," which linguists note is not a synonym for "in its last throes." Meanwhile, International Crisis Group calls July "the grimmest month for conflict prevention around the world," citing crises in North Korea, Somalia and Sudan, as well as the Middle East. Mel Gibson's publicist claims he meant to blame all this bloodshed on "the Druze."

THE PASSION OF THE SCHNOOK

Last week: -- Weeks on list: 1

4Mel-tdown. Drunken-driver Mel Gibson offers provocative theory that "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." A brief furor erupts when it is revealed that police cleaned up the arresting officer's report, particularly the part where Gibson elaborated on Jewish aggression in the Punic Wars, the War of Jenkins' Ear and the defeat of the Persians at Thermopylae, which Gibson claimed "involved a couple of guys named Goldfarb." Still, Gibson insists he is not an anti-Semite, blaming his tirade on his struggles with alcoholism and depression, and also on his hatred of Jews.


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