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WATER COOLER

The Water Cooler is written by Washington Times staffers.

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President Bush is applauded by Vice President Dick Cheney (left) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, of Ill. while delivering his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in 2004. (Associated Press)

Cruz calls it a 'circus': the State of the Union spectacle begins

It is is political theater at its most frantic: the State of the Union address - SOTU in popular parlance - may now stand for "so too" much. The annual rite is amplified by shrill news coverage and endlessly endlessly punctuated by partisan applause, planned distractions, mystifying protocols and annoying insider behaviors.

Former Arkansas Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee wants to outlaw the word 'RINO' in the name of GOP unity

RINO: It is a popular acronym among conservatives who ponder political intricacies. "Republican in name only" designates elected officials whose liberal leanings outshine their conservative values. Yet RINO has now become a rallying cry for Republican Party unity - at least according to former presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, who wants his fellow Republicans to stop using the term.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, arrives at Fort Lee, N.J., City Hall,  Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Christie traveled to Fort Lee to apologize in person to Mayor Mark Sokolich. Moving quickly to contain a widening political scandal, Gov. Chris Christie fired one of his top aides Thursday and apologized repeatedly for the "abject stupidity" of his staff, insisting he had no idea anyone around him had engineered traffic jams to get even with a Democratic mayor. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Networks offer 44 times more coverage to Christie's traffic woes than to IRS targeting of conservative groups

Yes, there's a media feeding frenzy around New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and so-called "bridge-gate", which may or may not lead to serious political peril for him. The coverage cycle is so swift that some news organizations wonder when the headlines will shift to the predictable "Christie comeback" scenario. But one media analyst finds that while the press is attentive to Christie, it continues to ignore the IRS targeting of conservative groups.

Dennis Rodman walks along the court at an exhibition basketball game between U.S. and North Korean players at an indoor stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)

Is Dennis Rodman a diplomat or just spectacle?

Now immersed in his fourth visit to North Korea, Dennis Rodman and a cast of former basketball greats will stage an exhibition game before the isolated nation's most elite citizens on Wednesday, all to celebrate the 31st birthday of dictator Kim Jong-un. The world looks on, waiting for spectacle. Or something.