This week, all the familiar trappings of the holiday season, from Christmas lights to Bing Crosby Albums to mistletoe wreaths, began popping up everywhere we looked. The pages of the Washington Times were no exception. To wit: on Tuesday the editors at the Times began adorning the pages of their paper with a classic as perennial as popcorn strings ‘round the tree — stories about how Christmas is purportedly under attack from politically correct liberal heathens.


On Tuesday, the Times kicked off the annual festivities by publishing a front-page exclusive praising House Speaker Dennis Hastert for putting the Christmas spirit back in the Capitol’s Christmas tree.


“House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert has told federal officials that the lighted, decorated tree on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol — known in recent years as the ‘Holiday Tree’ — should be renamed the ‘Capitol Christmas Tree,’ as it was called until the late 1990s,” the Times reported. “The Capitol’s senior landscape architect confirmed the name switch yesterday for the Washington Times.”


“The Capitol tree, traditionally overshadowed by the White House’s ‘National Christmas Tree,’ was renamed a ‘holiday tree’ several years ago, according to the Capitol Architect’s offices, in an effort to acknowledge the other holidays of Kwanzaa and Hanukkah — although no one seemed to know exactly when the name was changed or by whom,” added the Times. “Calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree has become a politically charged prospect in jurisdictions across the country — from Boston to Sacramento and in dozens of communities in between.”


Like the Little Drummer Boy, today the Times continued the beat:


“Mr. Hastert — who should go down as this year’s un-Scrooge for his tribute to the Christmas spirit — is restoring the name, proving that the PC ‘holiday’ season crowd does not call all the shots,” noted an editorial in the Times today. “As this paper reported Tuesday, the Capitol Christmas Tree was renamed the ‘Holiday Tree’ during the Clinton years. It’s not clear by whom. [Emphasis ours.] But what’s clear is that this year’s name change — which might have gone unremarked upon without this week’s story in the Times — proves that the national campaign to sanitize and secularize Christmas can be defeated.”


The Times goes on to admonish the anonymous and apparently very slippery “PC crowd” who were (in the absence of any actual evidence) presumably responsible.


“The PC crowd will no doubt continue trying to break down traditions they dislike,” concluded the Times. “The rest of us will be pushing to keep traditions that encourage the spirit of the Christmas season.”


As if to prove the paper’s vigilance in the defense of Christmas, the Times today published another story investigating the nomenclature of seasonal trees in other branches of the federal government.


“At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, spokesman Brian Sullivan said a tree in the agency cafeteria — alongside a Hanukkah menorah — will be called a Christmas tree,” reported the Times.


“It’s a Christmas tree, for heaven’s sakes,” Sullivan told the Times. “People call it what it is, generally speaking.”


Undeterred, the Times kept digging in search of at least one heathen on the federal payroll. At long last, it turned up the major threat to Christmas that it was looking for. “Though Mr. Hastert and the Bush family firmly believe in the Christmas tree, some in government and political offices seemed more concerned yesterday about not offending others,” noted the Times.


As it turns out, “some in government” actually refers to a single, lone agency.


“The 6-foot-tall, light-covered trees inside the Department of Transportation’s four D.C. buildings are called ‘holiday trees,’” the Times reported triumphantly.


“Other offices said they simply had not thought about what to call their trees — or were perhaps playing coy to avoid the debate,” added the Times.


Or perhaps they were, you know, busy running the federal government?

Felix Gillette writes about the media for The New York Observer.