Without question, this past year was one for the history books and will no doubt be filed under the chapter heading—I’m just guessing—“2006.” It was a year of crisis, both natural and human-made, but it was also a year in which important lessons were learned. For example, the Bush administration learned it could no longer lie about torture, and I learned that if you leave a pair of dirty underpants on the front seat, nobody breaks into your car.
It was a year that justifies careful analysis and deep reflection, which I would gladly do if I had been paying attention, which I wasn’t. But I remember September:
• The international space station came one step closer to completion—and thus, one step closer to its ultimate scientific goal: completion—when the Space Shuttle Atlantis delivered much-needed supplies. Benefits of space station research so far include the discovery that duct tape works under gravity-free conditions, and that Russian cosmonauts get really annoying when you have to listen to them day after day after day.
• Democratic candidate Adrian Fenty won the District of Columbia’s mayoral primary, virtually guaranteeing his election in this majority Democratic city. His election was assured during the campaign when he stopped by my house and used the bathroom. The four eligible voters in residence took note of this and voted accordingly. (Note to potential presidential candidates: One bathroom. Four votes. Do the math.)
• Venezuelan President Hugo “Mr. Happy” Chavez complained during his United Nations speech that the podium gave off a bad odor from George Bush’s address the previous day. White House officials were quick to explain that the president had eaten Tex-Mex for lunch and, you know, couldn’t help it.
• The long-standing suspicions of 10-year-old boys everywhere were confirmed when it was discovered that spinach is actually bad for you. Parents now risk scrutiny from law enforcement for years of insisting their children eat the stuff.
• Although Iraq’s Sunni and Shia sects continued to descend into civil war, pop stars Elton John and George Michael finally agreed to end their two-year feud. The Bush administration eagerly called in reporters to say: “See, the news is not all bad.”
• Pope Benedict XVI fired his principal speech- writer who, while looking for quotes about Islam, apparently clicked on Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” button and found something from a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who was not particularly fond of Muhammad. The Arab street reacted predictably and declared holy war against the pope, all Catholics, and most Martin Scorsese movies. His Holiness quickly apologized and then turned to a nearby aide and asked, “Is there some wiggle room in this whole infallibility thing?”
Fortunately, Islamist leaders called for calm, noting that the official jihad list already fills both sides of an 8 1/2” x 11” page, single-spaced, and maybe they should just let this one slide. (Editors’ Note: This column is solely the opinion of the author—a foolish, foolish little man—and does not represent the views of the editors, who have always felt that ruthless jihadists are just, like, misunderstood or something.)
• The head judge in the trial of Saddam Hussein was accused of softening to the former autocrat when he publicly stated that Saddam was “not a dictator.” The comment was apparently in response to Saddam’s own efforts at conciliation when he said, “We will crush your heads.”
• Ford Motor Company announced another round of layoffs, terminating employment for 25,000 workers. Attentive reporters, however, pointed out that because of previous mass layoffs, there was nobody left to fire. Saddened by this news, Ford executives accepted millions of dollars in bonus pay and went home.
• Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) pled guilty to federal corruption charges after more than a year of vehement denials. He then took the prescribed next step for politicians attempting to reduce culpability for violating the public trust: Alcohol rehab. (I know, this is not funny. Funny-sad, maybe?)
• A baby boy was finally born to the much-relieved Japanese royal family, who had long feared that their only other child—a female—would inherit the throne. It goes without saying that when you need someone to fill a politically impotent position with a disastrous history and the quietly mocking disrespect of most of the international community, it really needs to be a guy. (On the other hand, the job does come with some nice jewelry.)
In short, it was one of those years best forgotten, filled with the kind of political deceit and humanitarian outrage that would have caused Jesus, if he were dead, to turn over in his grave.
Ed Spivey Jr. is art director of Sojourners.