But at least we're enjoying the ride

Most Americans think the country is on the wrong track. Imagine that.

Published May 9, 2006 7:16PM (EDT)

According to the latest Gallup poll, 73 percent of Americans believe that their country is generally headed "off on the wrong track." Wonder why?

News item: In the face of continuing recruiting woes, U.S. Army recruiters in Portland have signed up an autistic 18-year-old who didn't know there was a war in Iraq until his parents told him about it last fall.

News item: With the addition Monday of his own former chief of staff, Ohio Rep. Bob Ney has now been implicated in criminal wrongdoing by four separate criminal defendants. His lawyer's response? Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, former Tom DeLay aide Tony Rudy and former Ney aide Neil Volz are all "singing for their supper" and "just flat making it up."

News item: Ney may be "Representative No. 1" in court filings in the Abramoff case, but the man known as "Representative A" isn't faring much better. Like Ney, Rep. William Jefferson hasn't been charged with anything yet. But two defendants have implicated the Louisiana Democrat in an ongoing bribery case, and now comes word that a Virginia woman wore a wire to help investigators record her conversations with Jefferson.

News item: While the Senate hasn't been able to reach agreement on immigration reform, it has adopted -- by unanimous consent -- a resolution stating that the national anthem should be sung only in English.

News item: In the hopes of shoring up conservative support that's fading fast, Republicans are pushing hard on judicial nominees again. One hitch: On Monday, the American Bar Association took the unusual step of downgrading its rating for D.C. Circuit nominee and former Ken Starr staffer Brett Kavanaugh from "well qualified" to "qualified." The ABA notes that some lawyers and judges familiar with Kavanaugh's work characterized him as "stubborn" and "isolated."

News item: Just two months after raising the nation's debt ceiling, Republicans in the House of Representatives are acknowledging -- albeit on Page 121 of a 125-page budget plan -- that the credit line will need to go up again soon.

News item: House Speaker Dennis Hastert says the president's nomination of Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden as the director of the CIA "smacks" of a Pentagon "power grab," but there's apparently no reason to worry; Donald Rumsfeld says it's not so.

News item: Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell owns stock in voting machine manufacturer Diebold Inc., was responsible for overseeing last month's statewide election in Ohio and was himself on the ballot in that election. Nonetheless, a spokesman for Blackwell says it's "silly" to suggest that he recuse himself from an investigation into problems with the vote. Meanwhile, former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris says Jeb Bush's declaration that she can't win in her run for the U.S. Senate just goes to prove that she's not "part of the club ... of the establishment elite."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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