The best and worst of 2006 

A giant mobile home park, the Huckster and lots more.

HOPE'S TRAILERS: Lots of them.
  • HOPE'S TRAILERS: Lots of them.

The election returns last month were encouraging, but the 21st century so far has not been kind to sane people who let themselves get their hopes up. So in our annual review of the Bests and Worsts of Arkansas for 2006, we’ve taken our cue from Fox News by attempting a fair and balanced ’06 overview. We report, you decide.

There was much to like, perhaps more not to. The best-worst list is awfully politics-heavy this year, and the political parts tilt strongly in the direction of worsts. Among the public servants so-called, Gov. Mike Huckabee is the 2006 clear winner at harvesting worsts, as has been the case for a decade or more — at least since he went from Worst Fatso Politician to Worst Beanpole Politician.

Year after year, he’s simply had no parochial political competition for bad ideas, bad expression, bad taste, bad decisions, bad appointments, and overall bad performance. Never, ever, have we had such a sorehead. Who has been a half, or a tenth, as thin-skinned, sanctimonious, shallow, or petty, or as overweeningly proud to be all those things?

There have been scarier and sorrier Natural State politicians during the great Huckalapse but all of these were mere nuts or crooks who lacked the breadth of banality and the relentlessness of posture that made the Bro.-Gov. a cheesy character of a classical kind, and something of a prototype of the turn-of-the-century empty suit (in this case donated, with matching $3,700 gift boots) that nowadays squats atop the American electorate.

He had good political luck, and he was peerless at the gimme game, at collecting spoils, even spoils that weren’t intended to be spoils, but otherwise his overlong overmatched gubernatorial misadventure earned only worsts. There were so many of them this year alone that we ran out of room trying to cram all of the breath-taking last-minute huckasnatches and huckagrabs into the list below. Lord have mercy he really did include a love-offering pitch in his Christmas cards! Good reminder, Bro.-Gov, of the true meaning of Christmas.

Well, we won’t have him to kick around as much next year, as he will be off mill-tilting in presidential primaries in mostly cold and distant climes. But we’ll keep an eye out for major huckagaffes, huckaflubs, and other huckaworsts, if only for old time’s sake, and will duly list the most meritorious of them in the aught-seven B&W, if there is one. So stay tuned. Meantime, here are the ’06 winners.

Best trailer park

It was revealed in February that 10,000 mobile homes, purchased by FEMA for $300 million and intended to house Hurricane Katrina victims who had lost their homes, had been dumped into a muddy field at Hope, in southwest Arkansas, sitting empty and rusting for months as FEMA’s own regulations prohibited setting them up in Louisiana for the people who needed them. Heckuva job.

Worst punctuation

The exclamation point that was the official campaign symbol of Asa! for governor was so contextually incongruous that it almost qualified as a punctuational oxymoron. What was needed was a punctuation mark that indicates a yawn, or a sigh.

Best fall color

n In Central Arkansas, it occurred the second week of November, and the prettiest scrap of it might have been the river-city Hillcrest neighborhood that has been described as home to all the cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

Best breeze

n A gust of wind caused a last-second field-goal attempt by the Vanderbilt Commodores to fall short, which caused them to lose, by a score of 21-19, their game against the Arkansas Razorbacks in September, and after the game, Coach Houston Nutt of the Razorbacks theorized that the twin spirits of his late father and the late Razorbacks announcer Paul Eells had together huffed up that gust to save the Hogs from a second-year-in-a-row embarrassing loss to the lowly Commodores. For the Hogs it was mostly uphill from there, to a 10-3 season and a credit card bowl.


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