Now comes the time of year where we look back on our most recent trip around the sun and say, "Good riddance!" Whether or not our own annual solar cycle went well, we were presented with some really lousy news. We start every year with optimism and end each sadder, but wiser. We get hammered and give the outgoing year the finger, while hoping the new year turns out better -- even though we're pretty sure it won't.
It's said that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I'd add that those who learn from history are doomed to screw things up in spectacular new ways. At least new ways are more interesting. So we look back on the year that was, hoping to learn something useful, and hand out this year's News Dive awards.
Hands down, this goes to former Attorney General of the US Alberto Gonzales. In hot water over the firing eight federal prosecutors for political reasons, Gonzo testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he didn't remember talking about it with anyone, emailing anyone about it, who they were, why they were actually fired, when the war of 1812 was fought, or who was buried in Grant's Tomb. Observers were surprised that he always remembered the location of the hearings and to wear pants to them. Most credited his staff.
In the end, he couldn't even remember to resign in disgrace, staying in the job months and months longer than any sane person would've. Finally, someone left a Post-It pasted to his PC and he resigned.
Bush comparing Iraq to Vietnam. "One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 'reeducation camps' and 'killing fields,'" President Brilliant said, having fled screaming from serving in that war -- like just about everyone in his administration. Not only is comparing a war he insists we'll win to a war we lost unconvincing, but bringing up the war at all cemented his chickenhawk bona fides.
Besides, asked about an Iraq-Vietnam comparison earlier, the First Resident said, "I think the analogy is false. I also happen to think that analogy sends the wrong message to our troops, and sends the wrong message to the enemy."
Why don't you get back to us after you make up your mind, George?
-The Best Candidate Who Didn't Run-
Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold. A lot of people held out hope that the best Cheesehead Senator since Fightin' Bob LaFollette would make a presidential run. A "Draft Russ" movement began after he introduced a resolution to censure Bush over illegal wiretaps.
Feingold finally decided he do more good in the Senate and announced he wouldn't run. Note to the winner of the 2008 Presidential Race: "Attorney General Russ Feingold" has a nice ring to it, don't y'think?
-Best Candidate Who Did Run-
Dennis Kucinich. That's not an endorsement, just an observation. Dennis wins for his push to impeach Dick Cheney. While other candidates still serving in office are busy campaigning, Kucinich is still doing crazy stuff like legislating. Consider that, Iowa.
-Frightening Image of The Year-
Larry Craig having sex in a mens' room stall. Pass the psychological stain remover. Larry also get's Honorable Mention for being the source of a lot of "wide stance" jokes.
-"In Your Face" Award-
The Nobel Prize Committee. In giving the Nobel to Al Gore, the Committee embarrassed the hell out of the Bush administration over their inaction on global warming. Turns out that the president who made a lot of noise about using switchgrass as a form of alternative energy has done much of anything but talk.
Al won an Emmy, an Oscar, and a Nobel. The theme song to his movie An Inconvenient Truth, Melissa Etheridge's I Need To Wake Up, also won an Oscar. In 2008, Al Gore is expected to win a mug reading "World's Best Dad," Better Homes & Gardens' Lawn of the Year award, and a Gold Medal for the Pole Vault in Beijing.
Seriously, when you're on a winning streak like this, why on Earth wouldn't you make another run at the presidency?
-Most Ridiculous Boob-
Gotta be Bill O'Reilly. Seriously, do I really have to explain this one? Runner up goes to Glenn Beck.
-Dumbass Statement of the Year-
Always a highly competitive field, but it has to go to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who told an audience at Columbia University, "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country. We don't have that like in your country. ... In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have this."
I know, you were expecting this to go to some Bush dumbassery, but this was one of those "You expect me to believe that?" moments.
-Most Beautiful Fizzle-
Hands down, the Bush administration's claims about Iranian nukes. Totally shot down by a National Security Estimate, the "We're going to war with Iran tomorrow" stories died a beautiful and very public death. With this administration, we have a shortage of "Peace wins out" stories, so rejoice.
Finally, this one goes to me. I'm being totally unbiased here -- seriously.
The advice of the year is to keep your damned car at home tonight. People get into trouble when they take their car out, drink, and decide they don't want to leave their car parked wherever it is all night. Leave it parked at home tonight and take a cab, bus, train, trolley, jinrickshaw, etc.
Seriously, I want to see you back for next year's awards. Now go get hammered.
Needless to say, these awards are by no means comprehensive. It was a whole damned year, for Pete's sake. You've got your own -- Most Wasted Celebrity, Most Overhyped News Story, Favorite Poisonous Toy, or Least Inspiring Speech, maybe.
Go ahead and post them in the comments. The year that was needs a fitting headstone. Go nuts.