Take 2005, please. War, disaster, political backstabbing—and that was just the first day in Wenatchee. Judge John Bridges discovered a "culture of errors" but state Republicans couldn't prove fraud in the historic trial over the 2004 gubernatorial vote. As state Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson said recently, "We can't hide the fact that we gave diplomas last year to kids who couldn't read." OK, but what's the adult voters' excuse? Ballot mistakes were abetted by their indecipherable penmanship, although math was King County elections chief Dean Logan's worst subject, and County Executive Ron Sims could count only to 99.8, close enough to perfect for him. "It's inertia. It's selfishness. It's taking our paycheck but not doing the work," Judge Bridges declared. He meant King County officials. But in 2005, that goes for you, too, FEMA. So many hurricanes, so few names—the weather was especially Greek to us—and even littler help. New Orleans was awash in floodwaters, then tears, as it became the first major American city to be abandoned by government since Detroit. What the hey, so many of them were underprivileged anyway, Barbara Bush said, "so this [chuckle]—this is working very well for them." (Not only so poor, but "so black," added Wolf Blitzer.) But heck of a job, Brownie, at least as fashion god from Nordstrom. You, too, Bushie. And you, too, Mayor Ray, for telling both to "Get off your asses!" Tsunamis and earthquakes rattled the world, but as American messes go, destruction of the Big Easy was topped by reconstruction of the Big Lie: More than 20 percent of the billions spent rebuilding Iraq were lost to corruption. At least we were winning—again. With more than 2,000 U.S. troops dead, our leader bass-akward issued his Plan for Victory, aka
Mission Reaccomplished. OK, he was just kidding about the WMDs, but we are making political progress. "Who could have possibly envisioned an erection—an election in Iraq at this point in history?" asked our president. Certainly the Iraqis rose to the occasion—70 percent risked their lives to vote (King County's 2005 voter turnout: 54 percent, mostly absentee). Bush couldn't fully envision the hardship from America's policies, either. Looking out the widow of Air Force One at the Katrina flooding, he piped, "It's devastating," adding, "it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground." Baghdad's probably like that, too. We learned what Rep. Tom DeLay and former Preston Gates Ellis lobbyist Jack Abramoff were smiling about all those years—free money—though we still don't know why Bush was smirking. Maybe it was his satisfaction at reading your e-mail, being warden of the CIA's global prison system, or something he said, such as "Wow! Brazil is big." The cause for amusement likely wasn't Joe Wilson, the former Sequim carpenter, who hoped to see Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House, and now, perhaps, have Bush hopping along, too. Pat Robertson, though, had darker plans for Hugo Chavez: "I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.'" You mean . . . on a date? But onward. The haunting leftovers of 2005, aside from those scary runaway eyes of Jennifer Wilbanks, include this fatal question from Enumclaw: What part of don't have intercourse with a horse—or vice versa—don't you understand? Especially one actually named Big Dick? We got our own $11 billion screwing by the Seattle Monorail Project, leaving us further stuck in gridlock reading the bumper stickers of 2005: "Cover me, I'm changing
lanes," and "Horn broken . . . Watch for finger." Take a final 4-foot grope at your dancer and a 25-foot drag off your cig, put on a happy face (if that doesn't work we'll transplant one for you), and ask yourself what the point was of that abduction in Everett which began with the victims stripping naked and ended with suspects and victims dining at Denny's. (Why do I think they all ordered the Moons Over My Hammy?) For more abduction news, let's go live to Lake Forest Park: "Kidnapping charges have been filed against former B-movie actress Bonita Money, her nephew Lewis 'Cash' Money, and some guy named Jim who abducted Bonita's estranged, broken-legged hubby, Zeljko Misic, intending to coerce his testimony at Cash's Las Vegas criminal trial but were arrested at a hotel after beating Misic with his own crutches." Inhale! Of course, you remember Bonita for her gritty performance in Terror in Beverly Hills. But do you remember Michael Alan Cassini of Kirkland in Catch Me If You Can? Actually, that was Leonardo DiCaprio playing fake- everything Frank Abagnale Jr. But federal Judge Marsha Pechman said Cassini's exploits—posing as a Microsoft exec to borrow $4 million to buy exotic cars and airplanes—reminded her of that masquerade flick. "I felt as if I was reading a Hollywood script," she said—which, like Cassini's story, also ended with a catch by the FBI. Speaking of bad actors, who did that California woman, Anna Ayala, think she was fooling when she found a nicely manicured finger in her Wendy's bowl of chili—especially after they traced the digit to one that her husband's buddy lost in an industrial accident? Fingerprints, Anna, fingerprints! And that was one of his lawyers, not Michael Jackson, who
burst into tears when a jury found the singer unguilty of child molesting. Michael was too busy blowing kisses to his fans. So, in a way, was ex-con Paul Wright, whose fans mostly are in prison. His Prison Legal News won $442,000 from taxpayers in a damage settlement by the paranoid state Department of Corrections for blocking delivery of the prisoner-rights newsletter. Juicy Jugs it's not, fellas! Less fortunate was a child molester whom the state Supreme Court found in violation of his parole for possessing a copy of Blue Lagoon, the cousin-love flick. Now more freaky-deaky court news: It was strange enough that ex-Microsoft and Bush attorney Harriett Miers was nominated to—and then denominated from—the U.S. Supreme Court ("I think with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, you can't play, you know, hide the salami, or whatever it's called," Howard Dean stammered). But then the high court said it would hear Anna Nicole Smith mumble an appeal seeking her late, 90-year-old hubby's $474 million—enough to keep her in groceries for weeks! No appeal is likely, however, for Neelesh Phadnis, whom King County jurors quickly convicted of killing his parents after he—acting as his own attorney—claimed the real killers were 400-pound Samoans. "I had to work horribly hard to keep from laughing," said one juror. Me, too, after hearing that Seattle District Court Judge Barbara Linde determined the value of a cat's ninth and final life is $45,000, the damage a neighbor must pay after his dog killed the feline next door. Less funny was the hair of cancer patient Jackie Day: According to her lawsuit, she awoke from anesthesia at Swedish Medical Center with head ablaze. The hospital said it was her hairspray, she says it was malpractice. Meanwhile, court regular Frank Colacurcio
Sr. was back in the familiar milieu, this time charged with laundering money to City Council members in 2003—just another day for nude-dance king Frank, 88, who was earlier convicted of groping a 25-year-old waitress. (When the cell phone of an associate went off in the courtroom, it played the theme from The Godfather.) Speaking of capo de capos, da mayor Greg Nickels swaggered to a second term as a mini-me Boss Daley and won kudos for his leadership to cap global warming—even while standing mutely by as monorail officials ran their nonpolluting electric train off the tracks. Spokane Mayor Jim West was run out of office and closet after voters decided that cruising for young male sex companions on city computers just isn't in the charter. As a defense, West said they had the wrong guy: "I have no opponent other than the person they created who is supposedly me." Yikes. Too bad Hunter S. Thompson was no longer around to hear that weirdo turn pro. (It was also the last act for adopted Seattleite August Wilson and Peter Jennings, the last stand for Rosa Parks and Simon Wiesenthal, the last page for Saul Bellow and John Fowles, the last laugh for Richard Pryor and Bob Denver, the last decree for Pope John Paul II and Justice William Rehnquist, and theeeerrr went Johnny, too.) There was a scramble afoot to also replace the retiring Seattle council member Jim Compton, but why fool around for $97,000 a year on taxpayers when you could become a $150,000-a-year (with overtime) King County deputy sheriff, retire at 53 with a $6,800 monthly pension, and, thanks to toothless departmental discipline, break the law with impunity? I ask you! At least there was an upside to one setback: The possibly forthcoming Seattle school closures will make it easier to
site new strip clubs (you know, the 1,000-foot rule? . . . aw, forget it). And now, the sports. Headline: Rhino Eats Calf. The Seattle Sounders beat the Rochester Raging Rhinos, but the Rhinos drew first blood. In a tangle, Rhino Billy Sedgewick took a bite out of the left calf of Seattle's Billy Sleeth. Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer says the calf biting left "a black eye on our sport." Just like Mike Tyson left a black ear on his. Then there's the sporting tongue: Scott Reed, a high-school football coach in Bend, Ore., was placed on two years' probation for licking the wounds of his athletes—literally, licking their bleeding wounds. Out-for-the-season Seahawks linebacker Ken Hamlin was blindsided off the field—is that why they're called nightclubs?—while Ichiro finally got fed up with the Mariners' losing tradition (well, it took the ChiSox 88 years to win a Series, Ich), and, furthermore, he was sick, sick, sick of his teammates' card playing! Ex–Husky football coach Rick Neuheisel chose not to run up the score in the last quarter against an inept UW administration, taking $4.5 million for his wrongful firing rather than going to trial and doubling it. The Hawks were bowling for an XL in Detroit—after they thrashed the Philadelphia Eagles 42-0 in regular-season play, Jay Leno mused, "I thought torture had been outlawed." Without a center, the Supes, as Gertrude Stein always said about them, have no there there. But at least they have the dulcet tones of Kevin "There's more clutching and grabbing going on here than at a freshman dance!" Calabro. While we're into Deep Throats, Bob Woodward confirmed that his Watergate garage freak was ex–FBI No. 2 man W. Mark Felt. Yet the year ended with
Woodward harboring Plamegate's Blabber Throat (the White House's No. 2 man?). And New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd clawed the eyes of now-resigned reporter Judith Miller. "As Seinfeld said, men love catfights because they always think that somebody's going to end up kissing at the end," Dowd said. "But that's not going to happen." In other news news, yes, the New York Post did run a headline on Newsweek's retraction of its story on Koran-flushing that exclaimed "Holy Shiite." But was this the lead of the year, from the AP? "A double murderer who said he didn't want to be known as a number became the 1,000th person executed in the United States. . . . " For sure, increasingly more of us Googled than traditionally ogled newsprint. But the industry's not dying, I tell you, just going to a better cyberplace. In greed news, Sam Buck, an Astoria businesswoman, can no longer call her little coffee shop Sambuck's after legal action by Starbucks. Would Howard Schultz object if she changed it to Charbucks? Probably. Court trials of alleged Enron defrauders Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling loom next month, and they should be very afraid: In 2005, ex–Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski got up to 25 years for stealing hundreds of millions and former WorldCom chief Bernard Ebbers got 25 for hiding $11 billion in debt—enough to not build a monorail! Still, the Very Rich got very richer—thanks to Xbox 360 and taxpayers. Yes, it gladdens the heart to see Bono, Bill, and Melinda as TimePersons of the Year for laudably combating the African holocaust of disease and poverty. Yet the Gateses joined Paul Allen and Schultz at Seattle Center with a sweetheart City Hall land deal—a $50 million discount
to build a new headquarters for their $33 billion charity. Schultz meanwhile wants taxpayers to build him a new $200 million Sonics playpen. Speaking of playpens, Bachelor Allen was busy in Tinseltown building a 122-acre Beverly Hills–area compound to go with his five other homes and a yacht complete with submarine. The rest of us merely enriched our knowledge, if only carnally. You may already have known that turtles breathe through their butts, and can probably guess the answer after ex-veep candidate John Edwards asked comedy's Jon Stewart: "Did you make up that thing about the ground-up rhino penis?" But it has now been established that the check-off list for artificially impregnating Chia, the Woodland Park Zoo's Asian elephant, includes airfreighted sperm, two German scientists, and a scaffold. Did we learn anything else in 2005? Oh, of course: Wow, Brazil IS big! Happy 2006 anyway.