November 01, 2002 10:00 AM

Remember when author Tom Wolfe dubbed the ’70s the “Me Decade?” Well, “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams has a new one for you. Welcome to the “Weasel Decade.”

The social observer, who measures his comic strip’s success by how often his work hits the Xerox machine (“If they don’t photo copy or pass it around on email, then it didn’t work,” he says), has just published his fourth book — “Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel,” PEOPLE reports.

It arrives just as America’s eyes are focused on the economic ups and downs of such companies as Enron, Worldcom and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Adams, 45, said that he started working on this new book when he noticed what he dubbed a “weasel boom” in the works.

“You see historians making up history, ice-skating judges rigging the vote, movie (studios) making up their own movie reviews, and it wasn’t just CEOs and politicians any more. It was the whole world,” said Adams, whose workplace-skewering strip is syndicated to more than 2,000 papers. “That’s the bubble I saw which caused me to write it.”

Speaking to PEOPLE while signing books in Washington, D.C., the cartoonist said that the modern weasel has little fear of getting caught. “I think people see everybody getting away with so much, you lose sight of the fact that maybe what you’re doing yourself is wrong,” he said, adding that today “crime has never paid so well.”

Despite his strip’s sardonic tone, (“I have low expectations for humanity. I’m never disappointed”) Adams insists he’s not really a cynic.

“There’s a fine line between cynicism and realism,” he says. “I consider myself realistic.”

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