Interestingly enough, Michael Stipe and the boys wrote this song after attending a policy debate tournament. They were so impressed with the speed at which policy debaters can make coherent and strong arguments (to those not submerged in debate, it often sounds like gunshots). Hence the frantic pace of the song.
Stipe also uses some policy debate terms in the song, such as net, which is a stock debate arg that is used to argue that the social net, as it widens, gets bigger holes that allows more people to slip through. (Incidentally, the lyrics are "net", right? ... right, not "neck" - even Stipe admits that) and "tournament of lies" refers to the practice of assigning policy debate teams various positions, regardless of their personal agreement with the argument they are making.
Weird little factoid.