For the first time in its long process, the 2008 — née 2007 — farm bill was going according to script. Congress finally came up with a final version. Bush vetoed it, just as he had promised. The House overrode the veto, just as everyone knew it would. Next stop: the Senate, where Bush’s veto was due meet another overwhelming override. And after that, law.

Remember at the end of Chinatown, when everything gets hopelessly screwed up? Leading away a stunned and speechless Jack Nicholson, his old friend says, "It’s Chinatown, Jake." Because, you know, Chinatown is where all sorts of haunting stuff had happened to Nicholson’s character in the past.

Well, it’s the farm bill. And just before it was set to become law, everything got screwed up.

Evidently, the version Congress sent to the president was missing 35 pages — throwing a wrench into the whole works. So the legislation that Bush vetoed and the House revived with its override is technically tainted and can’t become law.

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Now, it looks like both chambers will have to repass the farm bill and send a complete version back to the president, putting the whole veto-override script on replay. And to buy time to get it done, it looks like Congress and the president will have to extend the 2002 bill for another week — for approximately the 400th time.

Barring another FUBAR, it looks like the bill will finally become law next week.

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Meanwhile, there’s an interesting analysis on Time of Bush’s opposition to the bill. According to Michael Grunwald:

[D]eficit hawks, anti-hunger activists and other farm bill opponents say his White House has made little real effort to sway its caucus against the new farm bill, especially compared to its frenzied lobbying against the waterboarding ban and the health insurance expansion.