Another year past, and to paraphrase the immortal words of the Moody Blues, another year's useless energy spent.
A poll taken in June found that only 5% of Wisconsinites think ethics in state government have gotten better over the last decade. Jim Doyle responded to this crisis of confidence by shaking down travel agencies, Indian casinos, trial lawyers, utilities, road builders and public employee unions for campaign cash.
After easily winning re-election, he proposed an "ethics" package that, conveniently enough, lets him keep the boodle. Georgia Thompson can't attend Doyle's re-inauguration, because she's in prison.
In 2006, the creative juices flowed: An Indian movie director from the mellifluously sounding city of Thiruvananthapuram said he wanted Paris Hilton to play the role of Nobel laureate Mother Teresa in an upcoming movie. After this year's "Martinifest" at the Milwaukee Art Museum, "food, drink and vomit were on and around some of the artworks by night's end." This prompted one philistine to quip, "With the low state of modern art, it might be difficult to determine if you're looking at art or someone's vomit."
Great minds were also at work. Asked why she was pushing the Legislature to name an "official state tartan," state Rep. Suzanne Jeskewitz (R-Menomonee Falls) explained: "Sometimes, you do things like this because...you don't see a reason not to" - a sentiment embraced by 17-year-old boys pretty much everywhere.
Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed sparked worldwide riots, leading most U.S. media, including Comedy Central, to demonstrate their commitment to free expression by banning the offensive image. Ann Coulter commented that "Muslims are the only people who make feminists seem laidback," which was considered quite offensive.
An autistic kid named Jason McElwain one-upped Hollywood by sinking six of seven three-point shots in a high school basketball game. Castro wannabe Hugo Chávez charmed the United Nations by calling President Bush "the devil," setting off brief speculation about a Feingold-Chávez ticket in '08. The National Guard remained mired in the quagmire of New Orleans.
Tommy Thompson dithered about running for governor, then dithered about running for U.S. Senate, finally deciding that he really wants to be president, which is as likely as Paris Hilton playing Mother Teresa in that Indian flick.
Surveys found that nearly one-third of young Americans couldn't locate Louisiana on a map; six in 10 couldn't find Iraq. But at least they feel good about themselves.
Zacarias Moussaoui proudly reaffirmed his involvement in 9/11 and said his only regret was that more Americans didn't die. Progressives still worry about what to call these guys.
As a rising tide of violence ravaged Milwaukee, Wisconsin lawmakers rose to the occasion, passing laws mandating the use of booster seats for kids ages 4 to 8 and proposing bans on that nemesis of childhood, the water ball. Next year: the hat-and-mitten mandate.
Dick Cheney shot a hunting companion, leading wags to wonder whether you'd rather have your daughter hunt quail with Cheney, be alone in the Oval Office with Bill Clinton, or catch a ride home from Ted Kennedy.
After public pressure killed the automatic annual increase in the state gas tax, Republican legislator Steve Freese said, "There are three parties in this state. There are normal Republicans, normal Democrats and Charlie Sykes Stormtroopers. He says jump, they ask ‘how high?'" Surprisingly, voters in Freese's own district jumped at the chance to kick him out of office in November.
This was also the year of the meltdown: We learned what Mel Gibson thinks of Jews, what Michael Richards thinks of blacks, and what John Kerry thinks of people in the military, although the military got the last laugh when a picture of soldiers holding a sign reading "Halp us Jon Carry - We R stuck hear n Irak" spread across the Internet.
Republican candidates for attorney general argued about who "sucks" more, but Kathleen Falk found a way to lose in an election in which even a part-time Boston Store clerk got herself elected state treasurer as a Democrat.
The Da Vinci Code was released, offending Catholics, who then proceeded not to issue death threats, riot or behead anyone.
An investigation found that Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who famously called victims of 9/11 "little Eichmanns," had "fabricated and falsified material and was disrespectful of American Indian traditions in his writings." The UW-Madison distracted attention from Colorado's embarrassment by hiring conspiracy theorist Kevin Barrett to teach a course on Islam.
Karl Rove was not indicted, and disappointment filled the saddened eyes of the moonbats. Sensitive Australians who worried that Phillip Island's iconic "fairy" penguins might offend the gay community renamed them "little penguins." Less sensitive Wisconsinites overwhelmingly passed a ban on gay marriage.
Above all, 2006 was a year in which mysteries abounded. Democrats won Congress, Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House. and, mirabile dictu, Air America crashed and burned. It was that kind of year.