Between Michael Jackson, the Runaway Bride and Tom Cruise, there hasn’t been much room for other news lately. It got me thinking about what a foreign agent, say from North Korea, might report to his superiors about America after studying our media for the past few months.

So tell us, comrade, what are the great issues from the U.S.?

“A prominent American named Tom Cruise jumped on the couch of another major figure named Oprah.”

What does this mean?

“We’re still analyzing it, but it must be very important because it is still in the news.”

Do you have theories?

“Yes, the stories about this contain what I believe is a code word. TomKat.”

What’s that code for, comrade?

“I’m not sure. But this Tom Cruise is marrying a woman half his age named Katie Holmes.”

Isn’t that TomKat?

“It’s not logical. No great nation would obsess so much on one couple getting engaged. It must be a smokescreen to throw us off on the real meaning of TomKat, which we don’t yet know.”

What else have you found?

“There seems to be upheaval in a great American dynasty.”

We welcome internal decline in our enemy. What dynasty?

“A woman named Jennifer Anniston is divorcing a man named Brad Pitt, and it is said to be a split in the nation’s most important power center.”

Politics? Industry? Finance?


I see. Why would this Jennifer Anniston divorce him?

“I assume he is either unattractive or unsuccessful. Whatever the reason, it has been on magazine covers for months, so it is must be critical to national security.”

What other issues are these capitalists debating?

“Well, there have been a few stories about pension collapse, unemployment and illegal immigration.”

So are they solving these things?

“Hard to say. Most such discussions have been crowded out by the trial of a man named Michael Jackson.”

What about him?

“He is apparently a great, admired American icon who sleeps with boys, has a dysfunctional family life and has had so much plastic surgery he is now deformed.”

Why is he admired?

“Because he can dance and sing.”

What about reports that the military has a recruitment crisis?

“Minor, by measure of headlines. The bigger crisis is that a woman named Jennifer Wilbanks got cold feet before her wedding.”

Why is that such an issue?

“I don’t know, but it has been the subject of more coverage than global warming, outsourcing and industrial competitiveness combined.”

How about declining schools, homeland security and affordable health care? Is America debating those things?

“Not really. They are more focused on an extremely famous young woman named Paris Hilton getting engaged. And that Tinkerbell, her Chihuahua, bit a TV producer.”

What has this Paris Hilton accomplished to make her so famous?

“No one is sure.”

I heard something about military-base realignment.

“A small story next to Britney Spears being pregnant, and showing it off.”

What about America’s push for energy independence?

“An even smaller issue, especially compared with Lindsay Lohan being too thin.”

Thank you for your report, comrade. It has told us what we needed to know.

“Which is what?”

We don’t have to worry about America after all.

(Mark Patinkin can be reached at mpatinkin(at)