Politics, Derelict Parenting and a Panda: The Year That Was Impossible to Ignore

By Marc Fisher
Sunday, January 1, 2006

Wait, don't start the new year yet; I'm not done with the last one! Who could want to shelve a year that gave us Borf, Tai Shan, Ben Ladner, "Chief" Chad Cordero, Joseph "Prince of Darkness" Steffen, the Minutemen of Herndon, the real Deep Throat, the return of Marion Barry, the prospect of President Mark Warner or President George Allen, and the Osbourn High Eight, those Manassas teens suspended for sexual activities in the school auditorium.

Give it up for the police spokesman who delivered the best line in that sordid episode: "The sexual activity among the students did not reach the threshold of prosecution."

And now, the Moms of the Year : The runner-up is Cheryl Ann Brown, who had her 8- and 10-year-old daughters take turns being stuffed into the trunk of a Nissan Sentra for the road trip from Alabama to Loudoun County. But the winner is Channoah Green, who put her 4-year-old out of the car, at night, on the Capital Beltway. Whereupon she drove off. But only after bumping the boy with her vehicle. His offense: He had refused to sit nicely.

Caving In to the Man : Borf, the supposedly fearless anarchist graffiti vandal who inflicted his "art" on others by destroying their property, talked big for a while and even came to court in paint-splattered clothing. But at his next court appearance, when his freedom and pocketbook were on the line, suddenly John Tsombikos showed up in a blue blazer and khakis and promised to clean up his mess. Such a sweet boy.

Aren't You Going to Use That Camera You Got for Christmas? : The Minutemen, the self-appointed saviors protecting suburbia against the curse of illegal lawn workers, started spending their mornings hanging around outside the 7-Eleven in Herndon, videotaping the hiring of laborers. Better they should monitor the store's customers for cardiac infarctions following ingestion of cheese-filled dogs.

Give These People Something to Do, Please : Your Virginia House of Delegates voted 60 to 34 to impose a $50 fine on anyone whose pants hung down low enough to expose -- God save us -- undergarments. (Relax your belts: It didn't become law.) Over in Montgomery County, officials won authority to force-feed sniper John Muhammad so we can be assured the chance to put him on trial again so he can be killed multiple times by multiple states.

Your Tax Dollars at Work : The District sent a caravan of 10 buses to the Gulf Coast to pick up Hurricane Katrina victims and take them to the D.C. Armory, which even circus elephants balk at calling home. The buses came back with one, count 'em one, evacuee.

A Republican congressman from Texas proposed to change the name of 16th Street NW to Ronald Reagan Boulevard. In an unusual reciprocal gesture, the congressman announced he has changed all of his children's first names to Marion.

Mission Accomplished! : No need to worry about those pesky terrorists anymore -- you no longer must remain seated for 30 minutes on approach or takeoff from National Airport, and you're free to carry small scissors and some other sharp tools on board.

Nannyism Spreads From Its Ancestral Home: Of course, it was Montgomery County that led the charge to limit the height of houses as McMansions threatened to consume the suburbs. Chevy Chase even banned the big houses for a while. Then Arlington joined the campaign, and now communities all over the region are looking for ways to rein in the monster houses.

MoCo also started the local crusade against smoking in bars and restaurants. Then Prince George's joined the movement. To which some would respond: Now all the county needs is some restaurants. The District is also moving to go smoke-free; smokers may soon have to retreat to Columbia, as only Howard County so far has said no to the anti-smoke brigade.

The jihad against Wal-Mart, meanwhile, continued in Annapolis, where legislators are trying to require the loathed and loved retailer to pony up for more health benefits, even as Prince George's County passes a law designed to speed the store's first move inside the Beltway.

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