I don't know how to break this to anyone, but this is not just inside-the Beltway stuff, this is inside-Cab Zone-1. It's way beyond the rest of the nation's slightest interest.

Let's face it, most believe their capital is on some other planet, populated by sub-humans who are trying to destroy everyone else and speak gibberish. Is there anything about the war over a "self-executing" tactic or "deem-and-pass" legislation that would cause them to change their minds? Or even give a deem?

Never mind that both parties have used this little trick a gazillion times. It’s coming in handy again as an insidious way for politicians of all preferences to justify their existence, along with the pundits’ and pundit-wannabes’. We get to feign outrage over something without anyone having the slightest idea what we're talking about. For us in this business, it's a dream. For everyone else it's a turnoff.

Sad to say, it obscures the merits of the healthcare measures, or lacks thereof. It distracts from the unresolved argument over reform that either goes way too far or doesn't go anywhere near far enough.

Why bother hashing that out still again, and infuriating the citizens, when you can bore them to death with a "self-executing" designation, where House passage of the rule means the underlying bill is deemed passed? Who needs sleeping pills when that stuff will cure most anyone's insomnia?

Put it this way: If you do get passionate over that description of legislative legerdemain and the excitement lasts more than four hours, seek immediate help from a medical professional. In fact, if it's more than four seconds, waste no time in heading to the nearest GR — green room. That's where they hold meetings for those addicted to this stuff.

They are mainly in Washington, definitely in what was Cab Zone 1, back before they switched cabs to a meter system here and back when people in the real world still clung to the hope that things could change. The zone system is gone now. So is any vestige of that hope.

Visit Mr. Franken's website at www.bobfranken.tv.