We Washingtonians get overly excited when there's any news about our furry black-and-white celebrities, so you can imagine the talk about the new panda cub. This fascination stems from more than the animals' legendary cuteness--I think we're fascinated by their placid lifestyles, which they demonstrate both in zoos and in their native environment.
Moreover, the pandas are a light-hearted distraction from our problems, equivalent to the chatter in the celebrity gossip rags. ("Did they or didn't they?" "Baby on the way" "It's a boy,", etc.) Those of us under the age of 40 practically grew up with pandas at the zoo, so the critters have been a backdrop on our lives. Go figure.