Dowd-y pop culture sandwich tastes stale

Like every other New York Times reader, Fishbowl enjoys the occasional fix of Maureen Dowd. But ever since she came back from vacation, are we the only ones who have noticed that her column not only sounds as if it’s the same one, recycled for your protection with a new lede and a couple of reworked pop culture similies (tired ones)?
Would we also be thought of as petty and small if we mention that the most recent column – which compares George Bush to saffron-colored cartoon hero Spongebob Squarepants – is nearly indistinguishable from earlier columns trying vainly to insert the Administration into various ill-fitting movie scenarios, all of them monochromatically casting Dick Cheney as Darth Vader, Bush as a cowboy, or Donald Rumsfeld as Dr. Strangelove?
Commentators on the Left have it harder than on the Right, we know: They try to reach a far smaller audience that’s more fickle and which can actually spell, they don’t have to unleash barrages against the French just for being French, and are buttressed only by creepy on-air lieutenants like Air America’s narcissistic Al Franken. Plus, Roger Ailes hates them and there’s no Murdoch in their corner.
For all these reasons, Maureen, why not just go for the shins instead of dressing up the argument to fit whatever children’s movie, beauty queen drama, or reality TV show you happened to watch the night before? To a reader, it’s like watching the same road map to the same destination. Someone pushing 50 should do well to leave the hip cultural references to young’uns like Hunter S. Thompson, who actually lives it rather than posing it.