Happy Morning. August 19 already? It really is back to school time. I’m hoping to get a Nifty Notebook AND new shoes.

What Scarecrow said:

In keeping with its rapid descent into absurdity since the producers gave up on having smart people on, ABC’s This Week is actually sponsoring a panel discussing the mind numbing question, “is the US headed towards bankruptcy?”  Uh, the answer is “No,” because it’s not possible for the country to go bankrupt. Of course, it is possible for the government to behave as though it were bankrupt if Washington is populated and influenced by blithering idiots and looters, including the leaders of our two parties. Still, the fact that ABC and its producers think this is a “critical” question and do not know its premise is sheer nonsense is enough to make you weep for your country and long for Howard K. Smith.

If this is the level of discourse to which ABC has now sunk, here are some suggestions for other panel questions for future shows that we will also miss:

1. Do we need to worry about the sun crashing into the earth because it’s just too heavy to maintain its orbit around the earth?

2. Where have the dinosaurs gone, and is it possible they are hiding in Big Foot’s cave?

3. Is it true that Ayn Rand is still alive and secretly working for Hillary Clinton to implement Agenda 21?

The Listings:

Washington Journal.

ABC’s This Week:  Jake Tapper hosts. Horse Race 2012 – Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter and Romney campaign senior adviser Kevin Madden.  Then, “This Week” panel, in partnership with the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, tackles the critical question “Is the U.S. Headed Toward Bankruptcy?”  Panel: Senate Budget Committee member Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA); House Budget Committee ranking member Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); former TARP Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky; former Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee; Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist; and Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel.

CBS’ Face the Nation:  Horse Race 2012 – Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  Then, Grover Norquist, also Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress.  Roundtable: CBS Political Director John Dickerson, the Washington Post’s Nia Malika-Henderson, Jeff Zeleny and Carl Hulse from the New York Times. Plus, Kim Barker of ProPublica on SuperPacs.

Chris Hayes:  Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of The Advancement Project. Tanya Wells, a student and recipient of Pell Grants, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance and Medicaid. Maya Wiley, founder and president of the non-profit Center for Social Inclusion. Sam Seder (@samseder), political talk show host of the Majority Report and Ring of Fire Radio. Michael Grunwald (@mikegrunwald), author of “The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era,” TIME’s senior national correspondent. Ari Berman, contributor to The Nation. Rep. Chaka Fattah (@chakafattah), Democrat representing Pennsylvania’s 2nd congressional district, senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, ranking member on the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies, chair of the Congressional Urban Caucus.

CNN’s State of the Union:  Jim Acosta hosts. Horse Race 2012 – Romney Senior Adviser Eric Fehrnstrom and Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter. Rick Santorum on the “nastiness of this general election campaign.” Then, CNN Political Director Mark Preston and USA Today’s Jackie Kucinich.

Fareed Zakaria – GPS:  Hiatus.

Fox News Sunday:  Horse Race 2012.  Roundtable: Bill Kristol, Joe Trippi, Karl Rove, Evan Bayh.

Moyers & Company:  Encore: Confronting the Contradictions of America’s Past. Bill Moyers and Khalil Gibran Muhammad discuss what we should learn from our racial past to better understand the present.

NBC’s Meet the Press:  Chair of the Democratic Governors Association, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) and Chair of the Republican Governors Association, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA). Roundtable: Chuck Todd; Atlanta’s Democratic Mayor Kasim Reed; Republican nominee and Tea Party backed candidate for the U.S. Senate in Texas, Republican Ted Cruz; the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne; and the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan.

Newsmakers:

Q & A:  Washington Post columnist Walter Pincus. He discusses his long career at the Post and some of his recent writings on national security and defense issues. Pincus has written critically of some of the spending in the Pentagon’s defense budget. He cites an example of a recent expenditure of $4 million to build a facility in Huntsville Alabama for the Army band. He also writes about a $115 million authorization to upgrade the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad which was occupied by diplomats only three and one half years ago. Pincus states that he is “amazed” at the amount of infrastructure money the United States government spends abroad compared to how little is spent within the country’s own borders…

Religion & Ethics.

60 Minutes:  The Case Against Lehman – Steve Kroft talks to the bank examiner whose investigation reveals the how and why of the spectacular financial collapse of Lehman Brothers, the bankruptcy that triggered the world financial crisis. The Archbishop of Dublin – The sex abuse crisis in the Irish Catholic Church has rocked one of the most Catholic countries in the world and turned the archbishop of Dublin into an outspoken critic of the Church. Bob Simon reports. Aerosmith – An inside look at how, despite their differences, one of America’s premier rock bands defied age, substance abuse and changing musical tastes to stay together for 40 years. Lara Logan goes on tour with and interviews the members of Aerosmith.

To the Contrary: Topics: Pledge Special – Interviews with Meryl Streep, Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Univison’s Al Punto:  Sen. Robert Menéndez, (D-NJ); Jorge Mario Cabrera, Director of Communications at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA); Ezequiel Hernandez, Immigration lawyer; Dr. Ricardo Rossello, Spokesperson for “Boricua Ahora Es.”

Virtually Speaking:  Digby (@Digby56) and David Waldman (@KagroX) discuss the politics and policy news of the week, Jay Ackroyd hosts, 9pm ET.

C-SPAN’s Book TV.

FDL’s Book Salon:  A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today. “A nervy, expansive memoir from a pioneering gender activist. When she was Al Bornstein and a member of the Church of Scientology, Kate Bornstein (Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws, 2006, etc.) signed a billion-year contract pledging to serve the church in both his present and future lives. Though she eventually left the church, the idea that a soul can endure forever doesn’t seem so implausible when you read her story, which takes us from a bizarre childhood to a troubled young adulthood to her stint in Scientology, which lasted more than a decade. That’s just the first two parts of the book, and even one of those experiences could have been the basis of a full memoir. Bornstein then goes on to discuss, with frank and arresting detail, her diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, her transition from Al to Kate, her immersion in the S&M community, her emergence as a powerful voice in the transgender community and her success as a performance artist, author and speaker.” Chat with Kate Bornstein about her new book, hosted by our friend Autumn Santeen, 5pm ET.

FDL’s Movie Night Monday:  2 Headed Shark Attack. “1 Body, 2 Heads, 60,000 teeth.”  Join Lisa Derrick and friends for the fun.