In Britain, journalists call August “the silly season” because, with Parliament in recess and its members retired to their constituencies or the grouse moor, political stories tend to be trivial or comical, preferably both. But in America the silly season is every season, at least if there is any story that can be sold, however implausibly, as an exposé of the discreditable truths always to be assumed to lie beneath banal appearances. This year the preeminent silly-season story was that of the open microphone in St. Petersburg at the G-8 summit, when President Bush was overheard saying “shit.” The Washington Post Style section thought that this excremental expletive was worth a whole 1200-word story by Peter Baker. “‘What they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it’s over,’ an irritated Bush said with his mouth full as he buttered a piece ...