1. The problem, crisis, scandal, or disaster: Al Gore's constitutionally dubious defeat in the 2000 election, and the seven years of political and economic disasters that followed.
Who/what Maureen Dowd says is to blame: Some combination of the following: Gore himself, voting machines, Ralph Nader, Bob Shrum, Naomi Wolf, Bush, and/or Clinton.
Who/what is absolutely, positively not to blame: The elite media, conspicuously including Dowd herself, who spent most of 1990 and 2000 mocking and deriding Gore while giving Bush a free ride.
2. The problem, crisis, scandal, or disaster: Two years later, the 9th Ward in New Orleans is still largely in ruins, and has received little or no federal assistance.
Who/what Newt Gingrich says is to blame: The "failure of citizenship" on the part of residents "in the Ninth Ward, where 22,000 people were so uneducated and so unprepared, they literally couldn't get out of the way of a hurricane."
Who/what is absolutely, positively not to blame: The Bush administration, which took the efficient and effective FEMA organization left to it by Clinton and turned it into a repository for incompetent cronies, and starve-the-beast conservatives dating back to the "Gingrich Revolution."
3. The problem, crisis, scandal, or disaster: US military personnel getting horrifically bad care at Walter Reed Hospital.
Who/what Fox News anchor Brit Hume says is to blame: The perception that there is a scandal.
Who/what is absolutely, positively not to blame: The Bush administration, including Donald Rumsfeld and the string of administrators who've known about the problem for several years.
Things are not going to get much better around here as long as the national conversation continues to be dominated by deeply unserious and irresponsible people.