Both the White House and the U.S. House ended the week on a mutually sour note.
As he has with all his terrorism legislation, President Bush tried to stampede Congress into passing a wiretap bill, saying the country was "in more danger of an attack" if it didn't enact the law precisely the way he wanted.
The prior law, a temporary measure smarmily called the Protect America Act, expires this weekend and very little will change. Wiretapping foreign communications will be governed, as it has been for the last 30 years, by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
With a deadline looming, President Bush and congressional Democrats are locked in a standoff over the government's authority to spy on foreign phone calls and e-mails that pass through the United States.
A temporary law that makes it easier to carry out that spying expires Saturday night at midnight, and Bush and his top intelligence officials say the consequences are dire. Al-Qaida, Bush says, is "thinking about hurting the American people again," and would be helped if U.S. eavesdropping is hampered.
The Senate Ethics Committee said Wednesday that Idaho Sen. Larry Craig acted improperly in connection with a men's room sex sting last year and had brought discredit on the Senate.
In a letter to the Republican senator, the ethics panel said Craig's attempt to withdraw his guilty plea after his arrest at a Minneapolis airport was an effort to evade legal consequences of his own actions.
Craig's actions constitute "improper conduct which has reflected discreditably on the Senate," the letter said.
The Senate passed legislation Wednesday to bar the CIA from using harsh interrogation methods including waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique denounced by rights groups as torture.
The Democratic-led Senate voted 51-45 in favor of a bill calling for the Central Intelligence Agency to adopt the US Army Field Manual, which forbids waterboarding and other types of coercive interrogation methods.
In John McCain, congressional Republicans are grappling with the notion of a presidential nominee most didn't expect or want.
Now, struggling under a raft of retirements that has dimmed their chances of regaining control of the House and Senate, Republicans are coming to terms with the idea of the Arizona senator at the top of their ticket in November.
That faint crumbling sound coming from the Pentagon appears to be heralding the beginning of the end of the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military. Or at least the end of its diligent enforcement.
It's been more than a year since Army Sgt. Darren Manzella told his superiors that he was gay, and nearly two months since he told his story on "60 Minutes." So far, the medic -- who spent a year in Iraq -- continues to serve without penalty.
Rep. Tom Lantos, who as a teenager twice escaped from a Nazi-run forced labor camp in Hungary and became the only Holocaust survivor to win a seat in Congress, has died. He was 80.
Spokeswoman Lynne Weil said Lantos, a Californian, died early Monday at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center in suburban Maryland. He was surrounded by his wife, Annette, two daughters, and many of his 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Annette Lantos said in a statement that her husband's life was "defined by courage, optimism, and unwavering dedication to his principles and to his family."
While America's super-sized attention was diverted and divided among the superlatives of Super Bowl Sunday and Super Tuesday, Official Washington began playing its favorite old parlor game: Liar's Poker -- also known as the old budget game.
On Monday, with all the non-fanfare of an errant husband tiptoeing home after a bad boys' night out, President Bush lamely gave Congress his lame-duck, legacy-lap budget. It was the first to break the $3 trillion mark. But the most crucial parts of Bush's budget were written in two types of ink: red and disappearing.
Democrats, already looking ahead to the next White House occupant, quickly relegated President Bush's final budget to the ash bin of history, saying his proposals to rein in spending on programs are untenable and won't happen.
Even the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, invoked a note of reality. "Let's face it. This budget is done with the understanding that nobody's going to be taking a long, hard look at it."
Even as President Bush cautioned against loading up the stimulus bill, the Senate was loading it up.
In a rare display of cooperation, indicating that in the eighth year of Bush's presidency there may still be hope for bipartisanship, the White House and House Democrats agreed on a $146 billion bill consisting largely of tax rebates. The idea was for a clean, simple bill and quick passage.