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Matt Taibbi -- whose prose I used to edit, lightly, at the Moscow Times -- provides his usual calm, measured, Broderian analysis of the late elections in this election-night diary: The Worst Show on Television. An excerpt:

McCain appears on CNN, broadcasting live from his Arizona office. He's got American flags on either side of him and you can almost see his boner straining against his pants. His smile is unseemly. He's talking about Republican losses and trying to look sullen, but he's not fooling anyone. He's like the bachelor who starts trying to fuck the widow before the funeral convoy even reaches the cemetery.

For what it's worth, the dual appearances of McCain and Obama on TV tonight marked the unofficial beginning of the 2008 presidential race. Campaign trail fixture Crowley would even say it out loud the next day: "The game is on." Panels on several networks noted the Riefenstahl-esque imagery of McCain's appearance and noted that it was a volley fired at the presidency. It's not a coincidence that the early White House hopefuls were all herded on the air the instant the polls closed. Once the last vote is counted, the next story is the next race. All politics has to be contained within the parameters of that who's-winning narrative.

What the Congress actually does, how it actually spends its money, what happens in its committees -- it's all irrelevant, except insofar as that activity bears on the next presidential race. That's why the "experts" on these panels are so unanimous in their belief that the Democrats should lay low for the next two years and not push their subpoena powers. They all think pushing it in Congress would negatively affect the Democrats' White House chances. In other words, it's bad strategy for the next football game, just like Howard Dean's crazy antiwar stance was deemed "too liberal" for the gridiron by the same geniuses a few years ago -- even though history ultimately proved Dean right on that score, for all his other flaws.

Our national political press is narrowly focused, schooled in inch-deep analysis, and completely results-obsessed. It's a huge and expensive mechanism bedecked with every conceivable bell and whistle...and designed to roam the intellectual range of a chimpanzee. It also has no sense of humor. When the Daily Show spoofed the networks with its "Midterm Midtacular," dragging the venerable Dan Rather out and coaxing a scripted piece of instant "homespun" analysis out of him (he said Hillary Clinton ran away with her race like "a hobo with a sweet potato pie"), the real journalists freaked out...

The reality is that Stewart's array of grotesquely pointless special effects and intentionally buffoonish commentary is an improvement on the real thing, and the real thing is an accurate reflection of our actual politics. Which means, basically, that we're fucked, stuck in an endless cycle of retarded lottery coverage -- 300 million people watching a bunch of half-bright millionaires in ties guess the next number to come out of the chute. I hope we're all insane. Otherwise, what's our excuse?