Monday, January 1, 2001

2000 Woman of the Year

PREVIOUS WINNERS: 1992: H. Ross Perot, 1993: St. Francis of Assisi , 1994: Newt Gingrich, 1995: Cal Ripken Jr., 1996: The Bob Dole Campaign, 1997: Dolly the Sheep, 1998: El Nino, 1999: Belinda Jensen

There has been growing rancor and dissent among members of the Newsletter's Woman of the Year Selection Committee (NWOTYSC). The conservative faction has long held that members should stick strictly to the committee's charter. The more liberal members argue that the charter is a living and breathing document and the committee should try harder to divine the intent of the founding mothers. This growing rift loomed ominously over the NWOTYSC as it began to meet in late November.

There of course was one name on everybody's lips at the beginning of the selection process. Gangly Russian gymnast Svetlana Khorkina seemed all but destined to claim the Woman of the Year award after having served her dutiful time in the background. But when she stubbed her toe on the committee room rug and stumbled her chances quickly diminished. Romanian gymnast Andrea Raducan hence won committee members' hearts with her out of the blue, gutty and spunky performance. However Raducan failed our drug test (administered by the fine folks over at Medtox in Shoreview). Raducan admitted to have taken some cough syrup given to her by a team physician a few weeks prior to her official interview with the committee. That may or may not have explained why she tested positive for artificial cherry flavor in her urine.

So with no clear-cut favorites left the nomination process was thrown wide open. Members began throwing out names with reckless abandon. The chaos overwhelmed the committee stenographer, a kindly old gent, who scrambled to record the official proceedings. When, as in every other year since the award was established, one unnamed nitwit stood up and nominated "Sandra Bullock" (apparently for her performance in Miss Congeniality) the straw was cast that finally broke the camel's back. The general consensus of the room seemed to be that enough was enough, things had gone far enough and it was time to rein in the proceedings before they fell into self-parody.

With trepidation the initial vote was tallied and the following names appeared:
Angela Perez Baraquio, Miss America- The first Asian American to garner the prestigious award, Perez Baraquio proved worthy of her crown by displaying an unpretentious charm that showed what a true beauty queen should be. This year's true Miss Congeniality.

Reese Witherspoon- Those that want to cleanse themselves of the Presidential election mess should go immediately to the neighborhood video store and rent the movie Election. Witherspoon's divine prophetic portrayal of the know it all annoying Tracy Flick showed how things would have been had Al Gore won the election. It was the best performance seen at the cinema this year.

Kareena Gore- If she had been the Gore to run would she not have won? Smart, personable (Becky Connor/Lecy Goranson-like), charming, and above all else actually displaying human-like qualities. All traits her father never once showed on the campaign trail begging the question who would have been the best Gore to run.

Katherine Harris- The media took cheap shots at her caked on makeup look when it had a legitimate issue to target. She demonstrated that election officials can quickly forget and disregard their job of protecting those they are sworn to represent. Putting self(ish) interests above all else and dissing those who helped get them to where they wanted to be.

Jeb Bush- One has to feel a little bit sorry for little brother. He sacrificed a far more promising political career to get George W. elected. He comes across as the brighter of the two yet seeing what he gave up for what was ungraciously returned, maybe he's not.

Hillary Clinton- Talk about cheeky. She chooses her "home state" of New York to run for Senate. She buys a home in the state in time to qualify for the election. Weeks after winning the seat she sells the New York home. I guess being a true New Yorker means living a transient existence.

John Ashcroft- Just how bad a Senate incumbent do you have to be to lose your seat to a dead guy?
The Great Kate Berry (or Catherine the Great): The girl I had a crush on in seventh grade grew up to become the Vice President of the Red Cross. How impressive is that? Even a compromised blood supply can't taint that accomplishment.

Marge Simpson- A gal who after all she has put up with deservedly loves her Long Island Iced Teas.

Al Brown- In a bit of perfect poetic irony the man landed in Japan on Pearl Harbor day.

With such a list of well-qualified names it would have seemed apparent the committee was close to finding a winner. But as the sniping got more and more heated the discussion turned instead to the selection process itself. And to find the best way forward two different outside systems were closely studied: the year's most popular jury, the gang from the TV show Survivor, and the most staid of all justice serving bodies, the U.S. Supreme Court. Comparing the two would hopefully shed a light on the judicial process. What works and what is to be avoided in making such an important decision?

On Survivor two competing "tribes" eliminated members until they reached a point where they had to come together and work as a single unit. Then one of the tribes, Tagi, formed the dreaded "alliance" that week after week picked off members of the other tribe, Pagong. Before the Pagongis knew what hit them they were at the mercy of the alliance. Soon sweet Colleen with her mite bitten legs was the only non-Tagi to remain as she just waited her turn to be voted off by the others. But the irony was that the four most manipulative remaining Tagi were to be judged by the ones they had dispatched off the island.

Three of the survivors banded together against the fourth. But the fourth, the aptly named Kelly Wigglesworth, kept winning the immunity challenges thus could not be kicked off the island by the others. Because of her ability to hold on to a pole longer than the former Navy Seal Rudy, Kelly was able to pick the one person who she would have to compete with for the million dollar prize. In a moment of poor strategy she choose the fat naked gay guy Rich (who was the only one from the start that had a clear strategy to win). When Sue, the Wisconsin truck driver/former Wigglesworth friend lit into Kelly the dynamic of things took an intriguing turn. Some (Gervase) voted for Kelly to spite Sue. Others (the clueless alphabetically inclined Dr. Sean) voted for the naked fat guy nonetheless. And thus the one person the country most wanted to lose ended up the winner of the entire sordid affair.

Contrast this with the unique view of the Supreme Court that was afforded following the Presidential election. The prestige of the court meant that no live television was allowed because of the sacred nature of the lordly institution. They did throw us a morsel allowing for the first time ever a live radio feed of the proceeding. We were led to believe that the nation's highest court was above the fray and would come out with a fair and equitable solution because that is what they do. Those with faith that the court could ever possibly rule to not count legitimate votes were merely fooling themselves with a naive belief that this country's justice system is above politics.

The examination of these two judicial bodies revealed more similarities than differences. The main difference was that one body was upfront with the truism that all things are political and the other body was not. The difference between Richard and the majority opinion on the court? One reveled in his naked self interest while the other hid behind a bunch of legal jargon hoping it would articulate an allegedly non-political purpose. The court cited the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution because there were no standards in place to count the disputed punch card ballots. The majority opinion didn't seem all that concerned about the more grievous problem of the equal protection concerns caused by the wide variety of results caused by the quality of equipment used. And the decision to stop the count (just long enough until a phony deadline passed) because it might taint one of the candidates irregardless of voter rights, was a tad peculiar.

The NWOTYSC thus took the lessons learned from those two processes and took another vote. And with the means justifying the ends philosophy fresh in mind, two candidates came out ahead of the pack. Richard, the naked fat guy, and Antonin W. Scalia (or as Mr. Bush likes to call him, "Anthony Scalia"). After the ballots were counted (the networks called the race for the justice) it fittingly ended in a dead heat. Recount after recount produced the same results. Thus committee members decided to look for a compromise candidate, one who would properly recognize both men and also the theme of the year- where self interest meant more than honoring one's obligations. Fortunately one such candidate arose from the ashes.

We are proud therefore to announce the Woman of the Year for 2000: The Taco Bell Chihuahua- Our long lost friend who we still admire and miss. His comforting voice and one in a million snort still rings inside and brings warm feelings. He had an amazing ability for always knowing what to say at just the right moment. He brought a million smiles and even the bitterness of the way he left can't taint that. His rat like appearance is remindful of Richard and the entire Survivor saga and his overall personality is remindful of Justice Scalia's favorite candidate. Those that are concerned about the next four years can take comfort in our pseudo-south of the border wannabe friend. It almost seems he shares the George W. genome- the same smirk, the same kinda blank look on his face. What Taco Bell lost our nation thankfully remembers: that startled deer in the headlights look, a being programmed to say just what he is told to say at the right moment so that we can all go about our business with a smile.

The tribe has indeed spoken.

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