Perhaps you heard: We had a little hurricane come through Washington last Thursday.

Like most celebrities these days, Isabel (search) didn't quite live up to her advance hype, but she nevertheless managed to justify her fame. A good three days after her departure, my house and hundreds of thousands of others have no electricity, uncertain supplies of water, and more splintered tree limbs than I care to count -- or haul.

But by and large, we got off easy: If you talk to folks at the grocery store or the gas station, you hear tales of casual kindness: strangers helping drag away debris; neighbors offering hot meals or spare beds.

This is the America I have come to recognize and it bears no resemblance to the tawdry place politicians often portray the nation as being -- a land of avarice and greed and vicious neglect.

Think of it this way: If America were such a bleak place, in desperate need of guidance from Washington, why didn't we see any looters -- and why did we see so many selfless helpers instead? Could it be that we're better and more self-sufficient than even self-described compassionate conservatives dare to admit?

The East Coast's amazing response to Isabel makes me want to print up a bumper sticker that says: Congress: Don't take our money; follow our example.