By Al Owens
I just love making up lists of things. Iím probably the only person in North
America who derives sheer pleasure by writing down the stuff I need at a grocery
store. Funny thing though, I hardly ever stick to the items on any of my lists.
I always end up with a basket full of items Iíd never dreamed of buying before I
got inside the store. Iím just not that willing to follow my own instructions.
Thatís probably why Iím not a mapmaker.
That said, hereís my list of the most important developments of the year 2006.
Admittedly, I should have started preparing this thing back in January, but back
then I was too busy trying to figure out what happened to 2005!
Number 10: The 2006 Rose Bowl game: Two Heisman Trophy winners (Matt Leinart and
Reggie Bush) from USC faced off against the Heismanless Vince Young and his
Texas Longhorns. Young nearly single-handedly beat the Heisman winners and their
teammates in a thrilling 41-38 victory, that secured a National College Football
Championship - just 4 days into the new year.
A memorable football game!
Number 9: Keith Olbermannís rants! Olbermann has become a highly vocal critic of
the Bush Administration and all things rightwing on his MSNBC Countdown
semi-newscast. Midway through the year he started delivering his "Special
Comments" that offered a blistering contrast the pervasive rightwing punditry
that's grown rather tedious these past few years.
Number 8: The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. This place was a revelation to
me. Itís inside the Smithsonian Wing of the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh
Regional History Center, in the Strip District of Pittsburgh. Everything (or
just about everything) you want to know about sports in Western Pennsylvania can
be found there. You can even find mentions of Fayette Countyís athletic legends,
Sandy Stephens, John Woodruff and Johnny Lujack.
Number 7: Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart: Just about every week night I laugh
despite myself watching Comedy Centralís Daily Show and the Colbert Report.
Stewart is the master of the political double take. Colbert derives his humor
from pure satire. Both turn news events upside down. They mainly skewer the
political right, but nobody who makes headlines is safe from their comic genius.
Number 6: Boston Legal. Iíd always thought of William Shatner was a bit full of
himself. But heís thrown off his Commander Kirk of the Star Trek Enterprise
persona, and heís created one of the truly original television characters in
many years Ė Denny Crane. Set in a Boston law firm, itís not unusual to find
humorous and serious plot lines skillfully woven into courtroom drama thatís
hardly ever about what happens inside a courtroom. But who cares, it works!
Number 5: The departure of Donald Rumsfeld: As George W. Bush's Secretary of
Defense, he was known as the architect of the War in Iraq. Despite widespread
calls for Rumsfeldís firing, because the war plan just didn't seem to be
working, on November 1st, Bush announced he was sticking with Rumsfeld. On
November 8th, he announced Rumsfeldís resignation. It was a surprise, especially
since the announcement came one day after the November Elections.
Number 4: The November Election: Itís been less than two years since Republicans
were wondering why the Democrats had fallen on such hard times. Some
right-wingers claimed the Democrats were on the verge of disintegration as a
major political party in America. What a difference a War in Iraq makes! Just
two years after the president won re-election and he declared he had ďCapital to
use, and he was going to use itĒ, the Democrats re-took control of both houses
of the U.S. Congress and forced the President to do some re-thinking of his
beleaguered war strategy.
Number 3: Kevin McLee. Anybody from Fayette County who makes a splash deserves
high honors when you talk about things that mattered during any year.
Uniontownís Kevin ďBooĒ McLee gets his here. He was the leading tackler (75
single and assisted tackles overall) on a nationally ranked football team (The
West Virginia Mountaineers) and heís yet another McLee thatís brought pride to
Number 2: Super Bowl XL: The Pittsburgh Steelers 21, The Seattle Seahawks 10.
What else do you need to know?
Number 1: The Amish: No news story this year seemed as brutal or as thought
provoking as the deaths of 5 Amish school children in October. The story didnít
end with the murders. Within days, members of the Amish community graciously
extended forgiveness and their hands of kindness to the family of the man who
committed the murders. Something most of us could never do.