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The first presidential debate showed us—if we didn’t already know—how truly grave our political situation is. George W. Bush’s performance, fraught with uncomfortable pauses and other funny moments (Hard work? Please: Four-year vacation, anyone?) demonstrated just how lost the man is without his handlers. As conspiracy theorists nominate every sundry suspect from Cheney to zombie Masons for the position of Supreme Puppet Master, humorist Mo Rocca—no doubt concerned that his VH1 sound bites on acid-wash jeans and slap bracelets were becoming his trademark—thinks he’s got the culprit pegged, pointing his finger at the least obvious of the president’s intellectual peers: Barney, the president’s Scotty. Rocca’s narrative faux exposé, All the President’s Pets: The Story of One Reporter Who Refused to Roll Over, details the secret influence presidential animals wield in shaping American policymaking. We can only hope it’s satire. Watch Rocca sidestep terror in favor of terriers as he reads from his book at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Kara McPhillips)