I’m a fan of the most e-mailed lists in the online versions of most newspapers. The lists provide a quick route around the top headlines (what editors think is important) to the stories readers enjoy.

Of course, when the people speak, crap sometimes settles to the top with the gems. Consider Sunday’s New York Times story on District elite shopping at Costco. The story nailed the top spot on the most e-mailed list on Sunday. As of this morning, it was hanging at number two.

The story, summed up, is this: Rich and influential Washington party folk buy wine, frozen Salmon and other stuff at Costco. Sometimes they serve it to their guests. How un-Camelot.

The story breaks off into snapshots of moneyed power folk and their Costco habits. There’s Sally Quinn, former Rumsfeld advisor Richard Perle, Vernon Jordan’s wife…all, gasp, buying in bulk.

Hey, that’s three people. It’s a trend. So in the great NYT trend story tradition, the writer waxes anthropological to explain the why of this amazing cultural shift. Perhaps it’s the result of rising oil prices and the crashed mortgage market? Or is Costco “reverse chic,” the Pabst of the power set?

Hard to know. Maybe they are just cheap, a few more examples of the well established frugal and rich phenomenon? I’ve lived in the area long enough to understand why Washingtonians might find this interesting. But the real mystery is why anyone else would care.