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The Lesser-Known Think Tanks of Washington

Council for Innovative Alliance

A liberal, international-minded body dedicated to matching countries that have no political disputes or shared interests but just might get along. Recent successes include the burgeoning alliance of Estonia and Benin, as well as a promising Facebook exchange between Cyprus and Mongolia. Downplayed is the infamous Austro-Guyanese bitchfest and a disastrous summit at which The Maldives failed to "get" Moldova's sarcasm. Riots flared across the Indian Ocean, prompting Moldova to scramble its air force--which, at the time, consisted of several refurbished kites and an enormous Garfield balloon on loan from Macy's.

Middle Eastern Equivocation Center

Independently financed and fiercely ambiguous, meec has for 30 years offered sophisticated socio-political analysis of the Middle East without once advocating a position; steadfastly adhering to the credo "Videamus Quomodo Eveniet," or, "Let's see how things shake out." It is believed that, in the early 1990s, the group considered publishing an article in support of the State Department's choice of hotel for the final negotiations of the Oslo Accords, but the piece was ultimately dropped in favor of a less divisive monograph titled "The Majestic Camel." (Foreign Affairs, vol. 77, issue #3, April 1993.)


Heritage Foundation RAW

The new home for policy recommendations too crazy conservative for the Heritage Foundation. Rejecting the sissified scholarship of "Red" Roger Ailes and "Comrade Kristol," Heritage RAW's all-white, all-decrepit roster advances an outlandishly reactionary platform in rooms so smoke-filled it is said that members can only identify each other by their hacking coughs. At a recent meat-and-potatoes breakfast meeting, resident scholars discussed abolishing the minimum wage in favor of a "suggested donation," erecting a 700-mile fence to secure the U.S.-California border, and a visionary plan to privatize the House of Representatives.

Def Jam Think Tank

Dr. Dre meets Dr. Kissinger, Kanye meets Condi, and Wu-Tang meets respected political analyst Norman Ornstein in Russell Simmons's latest foray into policy development. Platinum-laden scholars compete for Hill cred in highly profane freestyle policy battles amid strobe lights, thundering beats, and sweat-soaked interns, followed by an informal bag lunch. Although the Def Jam format has yet to generate any policy ideas that could be regarded as "serious," or "intelligible," the institute is widely credited for introducing the adjective "weezy" to Beltway parlance, as well as the sudden fascination with hydraulics at the Brookings Institution.

The Chicago Bears

Credited with developing the framework for countless pieces of congressional legislation, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, No Child Left Behind, and key passages of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill. Strong personal relationships on both sides of the aisle have purchased considerable legislative influence for an outside-the-Beltway organization. They finished in second place in the NFC North, with a record of 9-7.

Yoni Brenner is a screenwriter. He has written for The New Yorker and The New York Times.

By Yoni Brenner