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February 11, 2005



PAUL GIGOT: Winners and losers, picks and pans we call it Tony & Tacky, our choices for the best and the worst of the week. We begin with the major issue taken on this week by the Virginia lawmakers, who considered a bill authorizing a 50 dollar fine for anyone who displays his or her underwear in a "lewd or indecent manner." Dan, I think I know where you're going with this one.

DAN HENNINGER: This one's the perfect wave, Paul. This is a Tony about Tacky. The Virginia legislature, in fact, dropped this bill this week, which means that Virginia high school students are still free to drop their pants. As one of the students said, "Look, they can wear bikinis to school in Florida. Why can't we do this?"

Now, let's set aside the fact that principals by and large don't want to get involved in this sort of thing because of litigation. The biggest issue employers complain about in this country is having to hire young people who can't do arithmetic, and can't spell very well. And in most international tests, doing comparisons across countries, the United States is way down in the pack. So we can't count, but we're really cool.

Algie Howell, the inner city legislator who introduced this bill, said it wasn't about rights, it was about values. He said all he was trying to do was show that people who dress in a certain way behave in a certain way, and this would make it easier for employers to hire them. Well, he lost, and guess who else lost?

PAUL GIGOT: Interesting. A debate about standards. It might have been instructive. Thanks, Dan.

We learned this week that the new Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost more than the government said it would -- surprise -- about 300 billion dollars more. Holman, Tony or Tacky?

HOLMAN JENKINS: This one is beyond Tacky. I think this one is almost historical. It's not just that they low-balled the estimate of the bill. They eviscerated every element of Medicare reform out of it before handing off this drug benefit, and then they brow-beat Republican congressmen to vote for this thing to serve the President's interests. I think it's almost like FDR's 1937 court packing scheme. It leaves such a bad odor that it's going to cast a shadow -- to mix a metaphor -- over everything this president tries to do, especially on Social Security.

PAUL GIGOT: It's the single worst moment of the Republican congress, in my view, since '94, since they took over. All right, thanks, Holman.

And finally, is this just a powerful muscle, or can the heart be broken by emotion? Melanie, Tony or Tacky?

MELANIE KIRKPATRICK: Well, according to a scientific study in the New England Journal of Medicine this week, no less, the poets are right. There is such a thing as a broken heart. Shakespeare was onto something when he killed off Ophelia after Hamlet rejected her. So I'm awarding a Tony to the team of doctors at Johns Hopkins University who discovered that the broken heart exists. They examined patients who had exhibited cardiac symptoms after a big emotional shock, like the death of a loved one. And those people generally recovered very well after treatment and bed rest. But the doctors dubbed the syndrome "the broken heart syndrome."

And one more thing, which I'd like to point out to the gentlemen on the panel, 95 percent of the patients with broken hearts were women. So as we approach Valentine's Day, perhaps that's something we should keep in mind.

PAUL GIGOT: No comment. Thanks, Melanie.

That's it for this edition of the Journal Editorial Report. Thank you from all of us. We hope you'll join us again next week.