Sunday, December 31, 2006

Best and Worst US Person of 2006

In the mode of Stephen Colbert, it's time to do a "wave of the finger, tip of the hat." Since I felt so alienated by the course of Canadian politics this year until the last month with the election of Stéphane Dion as Liberal leader, I couldn't really pick a best and worst Canadian. So instead, here's my pick for the worst and best US person of 2006.

Worst: Bob Ney, the former Republican Congressman from Ohio. He got caught up in a number of kickback schemes that got the king of lobbyists, Jack Abramoff, into so much trouble. I thought Tom Delay was wretched, but he was one of the causes of the disease called the "K-Street Project." Ney was the disease and leached on it. To be fair, he was much more aligned with the moderate wing of the GOP than the liberal; but the guy who created "Freedom Fries" and "Freedom Toast" still made friends in all the wrong places. He's expected to testify against some pretty high people in the new year in exchange for a reduced sentence ... and given the fact that he was less than honest about his ties to Abramoff until recently, one can only anticipate who else he's going to say was less than honest about their ties to Abramoff. (Hint: GB in WH.)

Best: Keith Olbermann, the former conservative sportscaster and news commentator turned liberal, now host of Countdown on MSNBC. In a series of commentaries -- some directed at his archenemy Bill O'Reilly, the rest at the Bush Administration -- Olbermann became the last angry man. In a sense, he is partly like Howard Beale, the "mad as hell" anchor in the 1976 film Network. Unlike Beale, however, Olbermann never resorted to histrionics but used the cold hard facts to make his case -- and in a dead serious voice. His analyses on the Malmédy Massacre, the 9/11 attacks and Dubya's emaciation of habeas corpus were especially devastating. He has established himself as Edward R Murrow's true heir -- something badly needed in broadcasting.

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