Kate Zernike gets to the heart of the foreign press' infatuation with the Tea Party:

It has affirmed the love-hate relationship the rest of the world has with the United States. The questions foreigners ask and the assumptions they make often reveal a desire to affirm their biases about Americans -- their presumed lack of sophistication, their reflexive jingoism. The Tea Party, to them, is a sign that Americans could be really be as hopeless as they thought all along. 

My British friends can't get enough of it. My mum says that from the perspective of someone just watching the British television news, it looks as if America has gone completely bonkers.