Of all places, This American Life on NPR has a pair of shows which give the best, most detailed yet comprehensible to laypersons, account of our current economic problems.
Featuring NPR National Desk business reporter Adam Davidson, the shows explain the market instruments and practices that led to the crisis, how and why it happened, and what some of the repercussions may be. The shows do a particularly good job of giving clear and detailed explanations of financial instruments like Credit Default Swaps, and terminology like hedging and netting.
The 10/03/08 show I heard last night led me to also check out the 05/09/08 show, which I hadn't previously heard. Both are very much worth listening to if you'd like to have a better idea of what's going on with the economy, precisely what it is that Paulson and friends are hoping the bailout will accomplish, and why.
It does a pretty good job of making the case that maybe the bailout is necessary (with the modifications made by the Senate, which I still think should have gone farther in protecting the taxpayer and preventing the bailed-out companies from profiting off it until the taxpayer is paid back). It also does a pretty good job of making one continue to wonder if it will even work.