It was hard to get happy after September 11. Even after Mayor Guiliani went on Saturday Night Live and said it was okay to start laughing again. The world seemed scary, with angry protesters in Bangladesh marching down their streets carrying pro-Osama signs and pictures. And then we realized that among the half-understood images they'd downloaded off the internet was one showing Osama bin Laden standing next to the muppet Bert.

So when this photograph turned up of a poor, poor tourist who'd been standing on the observation deck as an airplane approaches, it became an emotional touchstone. Tragedy-struck Americans visualized, worked through their feelings, and then realized the whole picture was an incredible pile of bullshit. It was cathartic.

And so was laughing at the subsequent pictures that showed the same tourist standing below the crashing Hindenberg blimp. There he was again, standing next to Godzilla as the giant radioactive monster busily attacked Tokyo. And, yes, standing next to Osama bin Laden.

Who was standing next to Bert.