President Obama turned from the domestic third-rail issue of health care to the international radioactive subject of dirty-bomb terrorism by hosting a nuclear summit in D.C., convincing the leaders of 47 countries to attend -- presidents and prime ministers and kings and queens and a couple of expendable pawns.
No bishops, they have their own problems these days. Pretty much all the cogs in the atomic machine showed up, except North Korea and Iran, which admittedly is like holding a steroids conference without Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire, but hey, it's a START.
The focus was on security, an encouraging sign, since the global stockpile of bomb-making materials is now large enough for 120,000 suitcase nukes. Which most experts agree is about 120,000 too many. It wasn't a total Potemkin summit. Everyone agreed that terrorism is bad and nuclear terrorism is real bad, and working with one another is good, and they should all meet again in South Korea in 2012 -- if the Mayans aren't right.
Took 60 years to assemble this pile of mutually assured destruction. Going to take at least a couple of meetings to get rid of it. Only nine members in the nuclear club right now. But a lot of wannabees. And since you can't tell your nuclear players without a Nuclear Players Scorecard, here they are, with official Threat Level grading.
WILL DURST NUCLEAR PLAYERS SCORECARD
United States. Has weapons. Duh. But we're not the problem because we're the good guys. TL: Dove of peace flying under the rainbow of international co-operation.
Russia. Has weapons and big problem. Leakier than a tinfoil sieve after 3 days of target practice on a 50mm range, and the world's largest source of loose nukes. TL: Giant Bear with flame thrower, roaming woods while being chewed on by Balkan squirrels.
China. Has weapons. Concerned only with economic strength. Need to convince them an irradiated consumer is not a repeat consumer. TL: Drunken Panda staggering through a shopping mall with a fistful of short-fused flares.
United Kingdom. Has weapons. Not quite positive where they are. In the garden shed of their lake-country home, perhaps. TL: Your Aunt Gertrude with a bagful of knitting needles on the subway.
Pakistan. Has weapons and worried we pay too much attention to India. As stable as a two-legged stool. TL: Swarm of angry wasps inside a papier mache tent on fire.
India. Has weapons and worried we pay too much attention to Pakistan. Don't you hate lovers' spats? TL: Sacred bull in a china shop full of crystal decanters stoppered to the rim with nitro.
Germany. No nuclear weapons. But if they really need some all they have to do is knock on France's door and ask to borrow a couple. TL: A domesticated wolf on an ankle bracelet, but a wolf nonetheless.
France. Has weapons, but more interested in discovering ways to use them to braise lamb. TL: Carnivorous escargot in a mine field.
Israel. Everybody knows they have weapons, but they won't admit it and haven't tested any. Making a scary situation scarier. TL: Tasmanian Devil tethered to a water soluble stake in the rain.
North Korea. Has weapons. But delivery system is a team of musk oxen. TL: Electric Cuckoo Clock made out of C-4 with faulty wiring.
Iran. No weapons, but definitely in the market for a fixer-upper. TL: Cigar-smoking pit bull headed straight for the fireworks factory.
Will Durst is a San Francisco-based political comic who often writes. This being a glaring example. He has performed around the world, and is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.