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, 2000: The Taco Bell Chihuahua, 2001: Randy Moss, 2002: The Cheapo Newsletter, 2003: Lindsay Whalen
Because of the fiasco of last year's Newsletter Woman of the Year process, Congress passed several law changes to address some of the issues that caused such controversy. The laws were meant to eliminate shoddy voting equipment and discriminatory administrative practices that kept committee members from casting their votes.
The result? More scrutiny over the process and less scrutiny over the actual candidates. As usual there were two major candidates (and as it will be revealed- no major differences between the two) and several minor candidates. The minor candidates were dismissed almost immediately because they weren't seen as having a viable chance winning even though they were the ones raising the important issues though they might as well been spitting into the wind for all the good it did them.
Among this group of candidates were all those involved in the BALCO steroids scandal. Regular readers of the newsletter, once they awaken from their naps, likely have noticed an obvious change in these pages since around 1996. For those wondering how the newsletter has kept appearing week after week for going on to 13 years- use of performance enhancing substances long rumored became obvious and confirmed publicly this fall. The editor's ensuing excuse of not knowing what the cream he's been rubbing on his belly seemed disingenuous at best.
Another candidate that the committee considered if only for a brief moment was George W. Bush. What is the deal with the endearing if not goofy way he over enunciates certain words as if he is learning them for the first time? David Letterman had a one off video spot called "Bush Shows Off" that showed our President speaking to a crowd saying that he had eaten KOYHBAY beef with Prime Minister KWIIZOOMEE. And then he breaks into his goofy smirk. It was the darndest video clip of the campaign- a reminder that we should all just grin at this lil affable fellow's antics.
Yet another minor candidate considered for the top honor was former indie-rocker Liz Phair. Just as her music almost tries too hard to get her hardcore fans to label her as the penultimate sellout, her clothes get skimpier and skimpier as if there's some perverse connection between the two. Yet she still has a way with words and her minor league wannabe Madonna act is quite charming because who can actually resist the catchy "Why Can't I" that informs us she was already wet before she went swimming?
Dan Rather was also considered because of the notion that bloggers brought him down that has spread from the Internet to mainstream media much like much of the news from campaign 2004 did. The basis of Rather's undoing was reporting on a story of our President's military career that was based on what turned out to be phony documents. Ironically just when Rather got the frequency right it was just then his wacky homespun Texas metaphors were too liberal, went a bit too far. In other words who cares about the story if what led us from here to there is more interesting?
So despite all the blogging and vote fixing it came down to two. The runner up was Ms. Martha Stewart herself, the queen of artificial homespun goodness because each and every one of the committee members felt bad that Martha was sent away for lying about a crime she never committed. Yes there are more legitimate political prisoners (Thank You! Mr. Ashcroft!) but Martha was the classic example of how our government has to make an example out of somebody in times of trouble. Yes the boys and gals from Enron destroyed actual people, and yes there might actually be just as much indifference in corporate America as there is in the much maligned public sector but goll darn it we gotta lock up Martha because someone's gotta pay! Besides, she's got seven kitties so how bad can she really be?
So the Newsletter Woman of the Year Selection Committee rifled through the hanging chads grassroots impassioned, yet ultimately hot air blown pleas, and came to a decision that could almost be called a mandate what with 50.0001 percent of the committee's support- a decision that will reverberate through the years what with the judicial subcommittee's appointment to the ultimate Newsletter Woman of the Year's Committee process hanging in the balance... Our winner in 2004? The Apple iPod. Why? Because it allows us all to tune everything out and just listen to our music. Repeat- OUR MUSIC. That it allows us to do that while changing the music biz itself should be seen as less a threat to the retail portion (and social strata) of our society as it is the opportunity that it really is. Take your iPod ladies and germs, and take your music with you wherever you wanna go. Shuffle Sinatra and Hole. Mix Dylan with Bananarama. Go ahead and listen to all that can and already has change(d) you. Just do it.