Whoever says the world is not insane has not been in the Washington area recently. We just survived a horrendous 21 days of people being afraid to leave their houses because of random sniper shootings.

Two suspects, John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, finally were caught and the evidence is overwhelming that they are the right guys. So far so good. But now that they are caught, they have to be tried. The problem is that Maryland, Virginia, Alabama and the feds in Washington all want to do it.

At the Rams Head bar, Blumquist said, "I think they should get the death penalty."

Everheart said, "I do, too. The question is, which state should have the honor?"

Delmar said, "Virginia has the record for the most executions. They also permit juveniles to get the death penalty."

This got Sparrow mad. He lives in Montgomery County. He said, "We had the most people affected by the snipers and we have the most evidence to present to a jury."

Allen said, "What about the federal government? They are demanding first rights because Attorney General Ashcroft is the chief enforcer of the nation. The feds also have the death penalty and the FBI on their side. When Ashcroft goes on television, the people listen."

I spoke up. "But Ashcroft is a strong advocate of guns and an honored member of the National Rifle Association. He may have an objection to the sniper rifle being introduced as evidence."

Blumquist retorted, "We can't eliminate Alabama. They also have the death penalty."

Allen said, "This is what I think. The prosecutors of the different states and the feds all want to have their 15 minutes of fame. This is going to be one of the biggest trials ever on TV, and how they handle themselves will affect their political futures."

Sparrow said, "The trouble with that is they are all trying get Muhammad to open up and he's playing one against the others. For example, Maryland will offer him a cigarette, and Virginia will hit him over the head with a truncheon."

I agreed and said, "After they were captured we all thought the serial killings were over. Now we have to decide for or against the death penalty and will Malvo, the 17-year-old, get life or the chair?"

Blumquist said, "If the big shots can't solve the jurisdiction in the halls of justice, can we solve it with a beer in a bar?"

The bartender said, "If anyone is driving a blue Chevy Caprice, it's blocking the driveway."

(c)2002, Tribune Media Services