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What's the Frequency, Saddam? Dan Rather -- who is hereby invited to write a Larry King-esque column for The Black Table anytime he likes - landed the first American interview with Saddam Hussein in 10 years. In the interview, Saddam challenged President Bush to a debate, insisted that he wasn't hiding any Weapons of Mass Destruction and promised he would never leave his Iraqi homeland. Afterwards, the New York Observer reported, Hussein asked Rather why the American people connect him with Osama bin Laden, whom he loathes.

Now, a few comments.

1) It is arguable who is crazier: Saddam Hussein, or Dan Rather.
2) Saddam Hussein appears to have porked up a bit since we saw him last. He's never looked better than in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.
3) The White House says Rather's interview was "journalistically sound" but complained that President Bush or others in the administration didn't have the opportunity for "equal time" on the telecast (CBS says it offered).

Now. The Black Table is certainly no fan of Saddam Hussein. But the Hussein interview was no-holds-barred, any-question-is-acceptable, an actual sit down with an American television journalist, with the cameras on. When was the last time President Bush did that? (It's a trick question. He doesn't do that.)

Cheer up! The world's not such a terrible place. Ten years after Maureen Baker's wallet was stolen, a cyclist found it near some railroad tracks in England, tracked down Ms. Baker at the pub she owns and returned it. Some money was missing, but Baker's got her four credit cards back.

The news boosted early-1990's rockers Mr. Big's hopes that someone will find their career near some train tracks and return it soon, but there's been no such luck at this time. Just to be safe, though, they might want to be careful with the pyrotechnics.


It's gonna work, honest! The Bush Administration tried to eliminate the sticky little government rule that says billion-dollar projects must actually work before being implemented. Even though the missile defense shield doesn't, um, function, the Administration wants to railroad it past the necessary testing to prevent a nuclear attack from North Korea, Iran or Iraq, even though there's no proof that Iraq actually has missiles that can reach the U.S.

This of course, paves the way for a catastrophic failure at a time when the country needs it most. It's kind of like spending millions of dollars to manufacture the best protective suit on Earth and forgetting the helmet. After all, a missile defense shield -- even if it does work -- only works against missiles, not box-cutter wielding terrorists, dirty radiological bombs, hijacked planes, anthrax laced mail… OK, we'll stop, we're depressing ourselves. Go read that thing about the wallet. That was nice.


So THAT'S why Bright Eyes is so popular! Remember those holier-than-thou indie music dorks who prattle on about the latest 42-piece art rock band from Europe? Now you have an even better reason to hate them. This week the college music world's bible, College Music Journal, or CMJ, copped to the fact it has been manipulating its playlists.

See, every week the folks at CMJ publish a list of songs that are hot across college campuses, using playlists provided by college radio station programmers. The only problem is, CMJ has a bad habit of inserting its own "Certain Damage" compilation in lieu of other records. While The Black Table is relieved that it wasn't a Dave Matthews record that CMJ shamelessly shilled, it's a sad day when CMJ, once the arbiter of underground cool, is just as slimy as MTV when it comes to self-promotion.

A half-billion dollars! That's how much the SEC said Royal Ahold, a Dutch-based grocery chain that owns Stop Shop, Bi-Lo, Giant and Tops here in the States, inflated its earnings by over the last two years.

Just like Enron, Worldcom and dozens of other companies, Royal Ahold used accounting tricks instead of facing the fact that sales were sliding, profits were eroding and the recession was kicking their ass.

In unrelated news, The Black Table earned $16 billion last week. In our first move, we are spending $8 billion of that capital to buy Salon.


Admit it: You'd never actually heard a Norah Jones song until Sunday. The low-key, soulful, understated Norah Jones swept through the Grammys last week, winning a whopping eight awards, including Album of the Year. Jones' performance of her hit "Don't Know Why" highlighted the ceremony, which also included standout presentations from Eminem, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, and a rollicking tribute to The Clash, featuring a version of "London Calling" by Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt, Elvis Costello and Dave Grohl. Less successfully, N*Sync "reunited" for a medley of Bee Gees tunes (we're not kidding), and Kid Rock did a duet with Sheryl Crow, who is like 60 years old and still looks hot, as long as you forget the fact her face is tighter than a snare drum. If you missed the show, just go to Kazaa, we're sure all the songs are available. In fact, grab the new White Stripes album while you're there, just to piss Jack White off.

Goodbye, Mister Rogers. Fred Rogers, the sweater-wearing host of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," passed away on Thursday at the age of 74 after a brief bout with stomach cancer. Now America's schoolkids can learn about fair play, sharing and kindness from violent cartoon robots and hypersexual videogames. As long as they take their shoes off before entering the house.


Aileen Gallagher missed this week due to illness, but fear not! She will return stronger-than-ever next week, especially if you send her a get well card here.