Conventional Wisdom Watch

Little did we know when we were glued to Connie Chung's Condit interview and obsessively counting
shark attacks that we were in the final days of the age of denial. After tragic September it seemed that everything had changed, even to the point where the ironic cadences of the C.W. might no longer be appropriate. But as the nation recovers, it's clear that our politicians and institutions still need some spitballs from the peanut gallery--maybe now more than ever.

G.W. Bush            +        Old: Callow, inattentive and lucky.
                              New: Seasoned, focused--and lucky.

D. Cheney            =        After September 11, demoted from
                              president to vice president. But he's still Big Time.

C. Powell            +        Marginalized? No way. Point man for
                              antiterror coalition. Now work on those Saudis.

D. Rumsfeld          +        Kick-a-- press briefings make him
                              the sexiest man in admin. Rummie's yummy.

J. Ashcroft          =        Says criticism "aids terrorists."
                              Would you buy a used Constitution from this man?

C. Rice              +        Brainy, beautiful and eligible. Russell
                              Crowe on line 2!

V. Putin             +        After 9-11, our new best friend--with
                              thousands of warheads aimed at us (and vice versa).

O. bin Laden         -        Giving Islam a bad name. Allah
                              to OBL: "You're fired!"

Afghanistan          =        Old: Burqas all around! New:
                              Kandahar wet-T shirt contest every week.

Y. Arafat            -        Make peace now--or you'll be just
                              another terrorist who needs a shave.

A. Gore              -        Bad news: Got more votes, lost election.
                              Worse news: U.S. glad he did. P.S.: Get a shave.

B. Clinton           -        Prisoner of Chappaqua has all that
                              energy and nothing to do. Hearts, anyone?

H. Clinton           +        Remakes herself into a solid senator.
                              Can she convince the New York Fire Department?

J. Jeffords          +        While GOP bigwigs sleep, Vt. sen.
                              bolts party, tips Senate to Dems. Milquetoast macho.

R. Giuliani          +        America's mayor leaves stage with
                              class. Squeegee men everywhere rejoice.

FBI                  -        Bungles Hanssen, anthrax, terrorists and
                              Hannibal Lecter. And still arrogant.

A. Greenspan         -        "Maestro" keeps hitting the same
                              note--and it's flat. We're Fed up.

C. Fiorina:          -        Hewlett-Packard CEO overreaches
                              with proposed Compaq merger. Hit ESC key.

B-52s                +        They're old, they're slow and they scared
                              the crap out of the Taliban. Keep 'em flyin'.

G. Condit            -        Real news got him off the hook. Now
                              he's seeking re-election. Pathetic.

'Harry Potter'       =        Pedestrian movie missed the
                              Golden Snitch. But C.W. can't wait for next book.

G. Harrison          +        The inner light goes out as the quiet
                              Beatle meets his sweet Lord.

Comfort TV           +        Forget about Reality. After 9-11
                              Jurassic sitcoms like "Friends" are real survivors.

T. McVeigh           -        Old: World-class mass murderer.
                              New: Bench-warmer for bin Laden in hell.

Stem Cells           +        Bush compromise won't hold. In real
                              life, cures trump abortion politics.

Firefighters         +        Hook-and-ladder chic takes over as
                              New York realizes who the heroes are.

J. Falwell           -        Fingers gays and liberals for 9-11.
                              A conclusion worthy of Osama.

K. Lay               -        Enron CEO pockets $150 million while
                              workers lose everything. Military tribunal?

K. Couric            +        Queen of the a.m. gets king's ransom
                              ($16 mil a yr.) And with fewer HRs than J. Giambi!

B. Bonds             =        Grumpy slugger has best offensive year
                              in history of baseball and can't get a bidding war.

A. Banfield          =        War makes MSNBC designer four-eyes
                              anchor du jour. Remember the Scud Stud?

Microsoft            +        Wiggles out of Fed antitrust suit, has
                              hot Xbox, new XP o.s Revenge of the nerd.

'Lord of the Rings'  +        Shows the imagination that
                              "Harry Potter" flick lacks. Give Rumsfeld the ring?

Xanax                +        Staple for 2001 survival kit, along
                              with Cipro and martini shaker.

B. Spears            =        Oops, we watched her HBO special.
                              She's developed, but her music hasn't.

'The Producers'      +        Mel Brooks's boffo return
                              resurrects political incorrectness. Heil Bialystock!

R. Parsons           +        New CEO of AOL TW is king of all
                              media. And guess what: He's not a nerd.

J. Franzen           =        Author of brilliant "The Corrections"
                              still conflicted about Oprah. Get over yourself.

Stocks               -        Old: Great! It's my 401(k) statement!
                              New: I'd rather read my junk mail.

CIA                  -        Bad-timing award: TV shows lionizing
                              agency where intelligence is misnomer.