2004: Things to forget

After a year of calamities ranging from Lynndie England posing with a leash to a $413 billion deficit, Jan. 1 has never looked so good.

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While so many publications are focusing on what we should remember about the year now grinding to a close, I’d like to continue this column’s contrarian tradition of pointing out the things we’d all be better off never having cross our minds again.

Here then is a list of all the things I’d like to forget from 2004:

Bernard Kerik’s nanny. Bernard Kerik’s Ground Zero love nest. Bernard Kerik.

That the woman who dismissed a presidential briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” as a “historical” document is going to be our next secretary of state.

That a man who finds the Geneva Conventions “quaint” is going to be our next attorney general.

Janet Jackson’s briefly exposed right boob.

That it took 14 months and public protests from the victims’ families before the president OK’d the 9/11 Commission, but only two weeks before the first hearings were held on Janet Jackson’s boob.

That the media thought “Don’t be economic girlie men” was a great line.

Scott Peterson’s love of golf. And that his lawyers thought it was a reason he shouldn’t be sentenced to death.

Paris Hilton’s new perfume. Paris Hilton’s new album. Paris Hilton’s new book. Paris Hilton.

“Surviving Christmas,” “Jersey Girl,” J.Lo: Ben Affleck goes 0-for-2004.

Madrid, Spain, March 11, 2004.

Beslan, Russia, Sept. 3, 2004.

That the federal budget deficit hit $413 billion this year, and two-thirds of it is the result of Bush’s tax cuts.

That Dick Cheney is talking about another round of tax cuts.

What Colin Powell did to his credibility. “You break it, you live with it for the rest of your life.”

“I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”

That picture of Lynndie England holding the leash.

The way the administration tried to sweep Abu Ghraib under the rug.

William Hung, recording artist.

Ashlee Simpson, lip synch artist.

Bob Dylan, lingerie salesman.

That George Tenet, who knew that the intel on Iraqi WMD was thinner than Lara Flynn Boyle on Dexatrim, turned into the Dick Vitale of WMD: “It’s a slam dunk, baby!”

That George Tenet was subsequently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

That a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich allegedly bearing the likeness of the Virgin Mary sold for $28,000 on eBay.



The 10,000 Web remixes incorporating the Dean Scream.

That of the roughly 550 enemy combatants held captive in Guantánamo Bay only four have been formally charged.

The Pistons-Pacers basketbrawl.

The looks on George and Laura Bush’s faces when Dr. Phil asked them about the “epidemic levels of oral sex” in America’s middle schools.

That Osama is still on the loose — and releasing tapes.

That the Kyoto Protocol was ratified — and we aren’t part of it.

That Ken Lay has still not gone to trial or served a minute in jail.

That 35.9 million Americans live below the poverty line — 12.9 million of them children.

That 42 percent of Americans still think Saddam Hussein was “directly involved in planning, financing or carrying out” the 9/11 attacks.

That, thanks to presidential cutbacks, we actually have fewer police and first responders on the streets today than we had on 9/11.

Star Jones’ wedding.

The Movie Multiplex From Hell: “Alexander,” “My Baby’s Daddy,” “Thunderbirds,” “Sleepover,” “Around the World in 80 Days.”

The iPod Party Mix From Hell: Jessica Simpson’s “Take My Breath Away,” William Hung’s “She Bangs,” Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” Britney Spears’ “My Prerogative,” Britney Spears’ “I’ve Just Begun Having My Fun.”

That Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld couldn’t find time to personally sign letters of condolence to the families of troops killed in Iraq.

That Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz couldn’t remember the number of soldiers who’d lost their lives in Iraq.

Drilling for oil in the Arctic Natural Wildlife Refuge (I’ve been desperately trying to forget this one since 2001, but the White House just won’t let me!).

Arianna Huffington is a nationally syndicated columnist, the co-host of the National Public Radio program "Left, Right, and Center," and the author of 10 books. Her latest is "Fanatics and Fools: The Game Plan for Winning Back America."

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