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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

The trend of aviation troubles, with a plane missing in Africa today, and a crash in Taiwan yesterday.

The trend of aviation troubles, with a plane missing in Africa today, and a crash in Taiwan yesterday.

September 19th, 2013
06:49 PM ET

What does 'The Big Lebowski' have to do with the debt ceiling?

It's "a very complicated case. You know, a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-you's."

We are talking of course about the looming debt ceiling battle, and also about that sage slacker: The Big Lebowski.

"Uli doesn't care about anything. He's a nihilist," said character Bunny Lebowski.

"We are nihilists Lebowski, we believe in nothing, yeah, nothing Lebowski!" said a character called, fittingly, Nihilist.

So what is the connection between a blood-thirsty ferret into the bathtub and the debt ceiling? Writing in The Washington Post, reporters Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan argue that there is potentially a strand of "nihilism" running through the public right now over the possibility of a default.

"Crunch the numbers and you find that almost six in 10 people who say they don't want to raise the debt limit also believe not doing so will cause serious problems for the American economy," they wrote.

"I actually disagree with the movie reference. I still think right now the way these battles are breaking down inside the Republican party up on the hill it's more like 'Miller's Crossing,'" said CNN contributor and Republican strategist Kevin Madden.

"It's so much about process here inside Washington, D.C., and the real message about why Republicans are fighting on the debt limit isn't breaking through," said Madden.

Bloomberg View columnist Margaret Carlson wrote Wednesday that the president if he is "not a lame duck, he certainly isn't roaring like a lion."

"Crying a little bit of wolf over the sequester, and all the times we were going over the cliff and horrible things were going to happen, and then they don't, which is partly why you get these polls that have a certain nihilistic element to them where the public just doesn't believe," said Carlson.

There are 11 days left to avert a potential government shutdown, and the push by House Republicans to tie defunding Obamacare to legislation to keep the government running is creating a rift in the party that the establishment is backing away from.

Polls show Obamacare is not incredibly popular, so it's reasonable for Republicans to continue chipping away at it, said CNN contributor and The New Yorker correspondent Ryan Lizza.

But Republicans, said Lizza, tied Obamacare to something that is deeply unpopular and which every member of the Republican establishment agree is suicidal, using it to potentially shut down the government and default on the debt.

"Seems like they made a huge tactical error tying those things together," said Lizza.

For more of this political discussion, watch the video above.

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