BEHIND THE NEWS: When it snows

December 19, 2008 1:58:55 PM PST
There's that moment when you walk outside and the snow is flakey and soft and it's eerily quiet and it's just magical.

Alas, it doesn't last long, at least not in the City. I know they have to salt the streets and the sidewalks, but the whoooosh of the cars and the black moosh that's created hardly make it any kind of winter wonderland.

But there is that brief time -- maybe half an hour? -- where all seems right with the world and it seems a shame we can't all stay outside and play.

That said, it's a mess out there in some places. In others, it IS a wonderland the week before the big winter holidays. It figures to be a weather-filled weekend, with another storm heading here on Sunday.

We have reporters out in it all, and Jeff Smith (in for Lee Goldberg) is tracking these systems for us.

Chrysler and General Motors workers are breathing a bit easier tonight. And they have more than 13 billion reasons for it.

The emergency "loans" -- approved by Pres. Bush after the Senate refused to release any money -- have more conditions attached than Carter has pills. (Oops - older reference, lost on a younger audience?)

They call the caveats "sweeping reorganizations" for the car companies. Of course, that's what the federal government last night called the changes to the credit card industry -- changes that don't take effect until July, 2010. If it's such sweeping change, why does it take 19 months to take hold?

Anyway, Chrysler is closing its plants for a month, but it should have enough cash flow to make it till the end of March. Ditto G.M.

We'll have the latest on the quick-fix auto industry bailout, tonight at 11.

One more item about Pres. Bush -- he was in the Oval Office today meeting with Palestinian Pres. Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe it's me, maybe I'm on a different planet, but I'm not sure I understand what Mr. Bush is talking about when he told his Palestinian counterpart, "I can't help but reflect on how far the process has come to bring peace to the Holy Land."

Was there a big successful push for recently that I missed? Didn't Hamas just cancel the ceasefire yesterday? Do the Palestinians have a new homeland and a new peace agreement that I didn't read about?

I'm just sayin.

Also at 11, we have the story of a true-blue New York Giants fan, who won free tickets to a home game in a raffle. The season's just about over, but the tickets are no where in sight. So the fan threw a hail-mary toward the sidelines -- which was caught by Tappy Phillips, who brought 7 On Your Side into the game.

And one more note before we call it a week: There was a death of note today. The death of the L.A. Times Poll. It was 31, and it succumbed to the same disease that is afflicting newspapers across the country. It died from lack of funding, and a weak economy.

It was an important, vibrant and accurate harbinger of things to come and reflector of public opinion. As ABC News' own polling director Gary Langer wrote today: "Does the loss of a single polling outfit matter? If it's a good one, sure it does. Even when well done, a single poll often is insufficient to illuminate public opinion fully; like a flashlight on the road, it takes a bunch of them, shining in the same direction, to show the way. Without the L.A. Times Poll, our path forward will be a little less well-lighted."

We'll also have any breaking news of the night. I hope you can join us tonight at 11, right after 20/20.

BILL RITTER


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