Lights, Camera and Action in Ukraine

Ukraine is in the spotlight, from the White House to Hollywood.

Jared Leto accepts the  best supporting actor award for his role as Rayon, an HIV-positive transgender woman in "Dallas Buyers Club" at the Oscars on Sunday, March 2, 2014, in Los Angeles.

Jared Leto addressed "the dreamers in Ukraine," saying, "We're thinking of you tonight."

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Here in Washington, Ukraine is all we're really talking about -- between bemoaning the latest snowstorm and stocking up at Whole Foods.

There's a demo protesting President Vladimir Putin outside the stone walls of the massive white Russian embassy perched on Wisconsin Avenue (not so far from Whole Foods). 

There in Hollywood, life was beautiful even in the torrential rain. And I mean Sandra, Bradley, Cate, Matthew and the sparkly Academy Awards -- unbelievably easy on sore eyes. Thank you, from east to west, for the California kiss. And I am from the City of Angels; oh, how I miss it at times like this. Ellen looked fab in faux winter white. Nice!

[See a collection of editorial cartoons on Vladimir Putin and Russia.]

"Gravity" was going strong, a gorgeous showy piece far from our troubles on earth. Awesome, Alfonso, we loved the ride away from the Great Recession and the House Republicans. You caught our world-weary mood and transported us -- just like Pink sang -- “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” 

In this town of verbal expert overachievers, the question is whether President Obama or President Putin has real trouble on his hands. The rough consensus is that the Cold War redux is not a welcome plot point in our coldest winter in memory. (We have enough to deal with making our beet and leek winter salads.) Am I the only one having flashbacks to the Cuban Missile Crisis? Were those just the good old days in the Kennedy White House?

Amid all the knitted brows on the Sunday talk shows, one leading actor, I mean secretary of state, loomed large. John Kerry is a natural for his role. A "stunning" move by Putin, sending Russian troops to the Crimea, said he. We are shocked, just shocked. Russia will be isolated because of this "invasion" and yes, the ruble will go down. The remarkably brave people of Ukraine "will not sit still for this." He doesn't need a script, our silver-haired man at State. It's as if central casting sent him over to the Obama White House. Good job!

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

While Kerry is declaring to Western allies that the G-8 in Sochi will likely be a boycotted no-show -- thanks, guys in France and Great Britain -- what is the leader of the free world up to? The White House released a picture of Obama -- with no tie! -- on the phone. with Putin, presumably. They had a 90-minute conversation and here’s where politics gets personal. 

You just know those two hate each other. Look at their dour body language -- Washington’s favorite metric, popularized by Bob Woodward. Yes, that Bob Woodward. Don’t ask. 

[See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

So what did they talk about all that time? Of this we may be sure: it was not performance art on either side.

Give him this: Barack Obama will surely be nominated for best supporting actor in this crisis. Let’s note he had precious little foreign policy chops coming into the presidency -- and Ukraine is shaping up to be the greatest test he will face. 

So far, Washington’s official line to Russia is “engage with Ukraine.” Fine, if a bit leaden. 

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

But Jared Leto, the long-haired Academy Award winner for supporting actor, said it best. Addressing “the dreamers in Ukraine,” he said, soaring, "We're thinking of you tonight." 

Hollywood, you rock.