What the country is talking about this week...

1 BASEBALL STRIKE Will a bunch of big, whiny, overpaid babies kill the national pastime? Well, if sportswriters haven’t done it yet, they probably never will.

2 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER The Parents Television Council says it’s the least family-friendly show on TV. So just because Dad lets you watch it at his house doesn’t mean you can watch it here.

3 WEST NILE VIRUS Who’s most likely to be killed by the mosquitoes, the Lyme ticks, the sharks, and the UV rays? Nature lovers.

4 THE NEW YORK TIMES They will start printing announcements for gay and lesbian unions on the wedding page. But only if they come from the best families.

5 AMERICAN IDOL FINALE How are they going to fill up a whole hour with only two contestants? Shouldn’t the show get shorter each week, not longer?

6 PRINCE MICHAEL II Michael Jackson’s mysterious third child. The big question is not ”Who is the mother?” but ”Where was he cloned?”

7 AIR HOOTERS The chairman of the restaurant chain is thinking of buying a bankrupt airline. Which caters to men who need help buckling their seat belts.

8 A SMOKE-FREE CITY New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg wants smoking banned in all of the city’s bars and restaurants. Hey, as long as we can still urinate in the streets…

9 ELLEN FEISS A Web cult has sprung up around the college student featured in an Apple commercial. Someday everyone will have 15 gigabytes of fame.

10 DR. PHIL The tough-talking psychologist tells people things they don’t want to hear. A job that used to be done by their parents.

11 MACGYVER: THE MOVIE In the spirit of the TV show, it’ll be shot with a camera made out of a bicycle wheel and some Saran Wrap.

12 BURNING MAN The weeklong party attracts thousands of free spirits to the middle of the Nevada desert far from civilization. So does Las Vegas.

13 THE MERCEDES MAYBACH A $300,000, 12-cylinder sedan with a champagne cooler in the armrest. What? No air bag for the bubbly?

14 FOOTBALL A sport played by the kind of millionaires who won’t go out on strike. Because the bookies would kill them.

15 FEAR DOT COM A movie about people who die after logging on to a website. My-PC-support.com.

Daily news and more Mullen at ew.com (AOL Keyword: EW)