Then there are the absurd, of which one of my favorites was the notion that the American anti-war left greatly admired Jacques Chirac. I don't know anyone to the left of center in the U.S. who follows European events and had a positive opinion of Chirac before 2002. His brief role as Chief Surrender Monkey in the Axis of Weasels didn't change that. Chirac is not just a conservative; he's a jerk.
Now we can add a dash of irony to the Dubya-versus-Jacques absurdity: they both won re-election rather recently and are both desperately unpopular now. The French rejection of the EU Constitution in May was a humiliation for Chirac. Some called for his resignation and were not mollified when he fired the prime minister instead. Now, the truly appalling riots are showing a Katrina-like inability to cope with a crisis that could have been foreseen, plus impotence that is unacceptable in a Gaullist leader. If I were French, I'd organize an office pool on how much longer he'll last.
By the way, are the riots getting any air time in the US? This is a genuinely big story.