Here's where we are. Tens of thousands of Americans continue to die in their prime from drug ODs. The middle class is still shrinking. Housing prices in our cities are crushing an entire generation of ambitious young people. China's economy is about to overtake ours.
So that's all the bad news right there. But have no fear. Here's the good news: Washington is on it. Your representatives in the capital city -- this city, Washington, D.C. -- just spent their third day in a row yelling at each other about a phone call Donald Trump once made to some guy in Ukraine.
In other words, the impeachment trial of President Trump rolls on and if nothing else, that means that amateur thespian and full-time congressman, Adam Schiff, gets to try out new parts for the camera.
On Wednesday, you'll remember, Schiff played the role of wartime general rallying the country in the face of an imminent military invasion. "The Russians are coming!" he squeaked. "The Russians are coming!"
Rep Adam Schiff, D-Calif, Trump impeachment manager: As one witness put it during our impeachment Inquiry, the United States aid Ukraine and her people so that we can fight Russia over there and we don't have to fight Russia here.
That's right, ladies and gentlemen. We could soon fight the Russians here in St. Johnsbury, not St. Petersburg. Stock up on milk.
Well, on Thursday, in a reprise of that performance, Schiff revived the character you just saw, but with a theological dimension: wartime general plus Old Testament prophet. George Patton meets Jeremiah. Suddenly, Adam Schiff, that hero to secular America, was dropping references to God like the two were old friends.
Schiff: Thank God, Putin said. Thank God nobody is accusing us anymore of interfering in U.S. elections. Now, they're accusing Ukraine. Thank God, Putin says.
I don't think we really want Vladimir Putin, our adversary to be thanking God for the president of the United States because they don't wish us well.
We do not want them thanking God for our president and what he is pushing out. We don't want them thanking God for withholding money from our ally.
Now, say what you will, but as a piece of theatre, it had literally everything. There was dastardly old Vladimir Putin rubbing his hands together in diabolical glee somewhere deep beneath the Kremlin. "Those foolish Americans! Little do they know, my troops will be in Phoenix by nightfall!"
On the other side, God Himself in heaven, looking down in sadness, hoping this lost nation will finally heed St. Adam's prophetic warnings and obey.
It was the age-old battle of good versus evil playing out right there on the Senate floor on C-SPAN. Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, though, was not impressed. He fell dead asleep the other day, and he probably wasn't the only one to do it.
If it weren't for the fact that most senators can nap with their eyes open, it would be clear that the whole chamber has been unconscious since Monday, and can you blame them for that? It's interminable.
And yet, on cable news, it's like Christmas. America's newsrooms are maybe the last place in the English-speaking world where Adam Schiff is still considered impressive. To an average news anchor, Adam Schiff is not a bug- eyed hysteric. He is a statesman, Alexander Hamilton reborn. Get that man a musical.
Schiff seems happy, and why wouldn't he be? He got it all completely wrong, but he wasn't punished. Just the opposite. He was rewarded. That's how Washington really works.
Wolf Blitzer, CNN anchor: A very, very powerful and forceful speech, almost two and a half hours by Adam Schiff. A very, very strong case.
Claire McCaskill, MSNBC political analyst and former U.S. senator: He is a really good lawyer. Period. End of discussion.
John Avlon, CNN senior political analyst: And also, I thought, Schiff did an exceptionally good job connecting his case to the Founding Fathers.
Andrew Weissmann, MSNBC legal analyst: This is a speech really aimed at the better angels.
Mika Brzezinski, MSNBC host: By most accounts, it was a virtuoso performance that drew praise from all sides yesterday. It was a stunning recitation of the facts.
Blitzer: What did you think of the presentation by the lead House manager, Adam Schiff?
Jeffrey Toobin, CNN legal analyst: I thought it was dazzling.
"Dazzling, stunning, brilliant, powerful, forceful, masterful virtuoso" -- whatever that means. Those are the words the press uses to describe a man who has just called for a hot war against a nuclear-armed nation.
Do the talking heads on CNN believe what Schiff is saying? Do they actually think Russia is on the cusp of invading the United States? Maybe they do, or likely they're not really listening to him.
If the internal thoughts of your average news anchor were broadcast on the screen -- and they should be -- you'd see they revolve mostly around hair and makeup. "Do my ears look big?" These are not policy people. They don't care about details. They just know for certain that Schiff is on their team, and that's enough for them.
That's something they had spent the last few years on, studiously pretending that Adam Schiff is a serious person and not a wild-eyed conspiracy nut. Now, to keep pretending that, they've had to ignore a lot of his actual claims, the things he is saying. Very much including these things:
Schiff: You can see evidence in plain sight on the issue of collusion, pretty compelling evidence.
And there is significant evidence of collusion.
There is ample evidence and indeed there is -- of collusion of people in the Trump campaign with the Russians.
I think there's plenty of evidence of collusion or conspiracy.
All of this is evidence of collusion.
To Schiff, collusion was everywhere -- on Facebook, on television, inside the box of Honey Bunches of Oats sitting in the breakfast nook in his airless Capitol Hill apartment. At one point, he even began to suspect his cats -- his many cats.
Schiff spent the entirety of 2017 and 2018 talking just like that. By the end, he had accused 16 million Americans of colluding with Vladimir Putin simply by the act of voting for Donald Trump.
It was a conspiracy that profound. Except it wasn't, and that's the remarkable part. Schiff was wrong. None of this ever happened. And we now know that conclusively.
So is Schiff punished for this? Driven from polite society for falsely impugning the integrity of millions of Americans with lies, which he did? No, he wasn't.
He just got more famous and more revered on MSNBC. You can find him most weekdays now having lunch in the best restaurants in the city right across from the guys who planned the Iraq War and got rich from securitizing subprime mortgages.
Schiff seems happy, and why wouldn't he be? He got it all completely wrong, but he wasn't punished. Just the opposite. He was rewarded.
That's how Washington really works. Keep that in mind as you watch Adam Schiff strut around the Senate this week, playing whatever character he's chosen that day.
This is the guy making the big decisions. This is the guy they admire.
Adapted from Tucker Carlson's monologue from "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on Jan. 23, 2020.