It's official: From presidential campaign politics to a world gone "Gangnam Style," 2012 was the most dubious year yet.
Oh, and that's without mentioning a Mayapocalypse that fizzled harder than "John Carter."
As the year draws to a close — and with a nod to Esquire magazine — The Washington Times takes a final look back with our 2012 Dubious Achievement Awards.
Welcome to Washington! You'll fit right in! — Brushing off media criticism over misleading campaign advertisements, Neil Newhouse, a pollster for Republican challenger Mitt Romney, declared, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers."
What has four legs, one back and is more eloquent than Rick Perry? — Actor Clint Eastwood gave a rambling, ad-libbed speech at the Republican National Convention in which he pretended to debate an empty chair.
Where are all the empty chairs when you need them? — During the vice presidential debate, Vice President Joseph R. Biden interrupted Republican challenger Paul Ryan more than 80 times.
Understatement of the Year — Following the first presidential debate, President Obama reportedly told strategist David Axelrod, "I guess the consensus is that we didn't have a very good night."
Overstatement of the Year — Mr. Ryan said in a radio interview that his best marathon time was under three hours, a claim he later admitted was exaggerated by more than an hour.
"Relax! I was just referring to 'Fifty Shades of Grey!' " — During a campaign rally in Virginia, Mr. Biden told attendees that Republicans would "put y'all back in chains."
So, does your committee actually, you know, meet? — Missouri Republican Rep. W. Todd Akin, a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, told a local television station that abortion should not be allowed even in cases of pregnancy due to rape, because, "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
"No, that would be UnSkewedpolls.com" — During an election-night Fox News broadcast that saw analyst Karl Rove repeatedly insist that Mr. Romney would win Ohio and even ask the network's own decision desk to un-call the state and the race for Mr. Obama, anchor Megyn Kelly asked Mr. Rove, "Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?"
Yes, and please start with your hairstylist — After networks called Mr. Obama's victory on election night, Donald Trump said on Twitter that "We should have a revolution in this country!"
As Scooby and Shaggy looked on, "Justice Roberts" then removed his rubber mask to reveal New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in a 5-4 decision that involved Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. reportedly switching from agreeing with the court's conservative justices to its liberal wing.
Winner of the 2012 Jerry Sandusky "Touched" Award for Most Retroactively Awful Book Title — CIA Director David H. Petraeus resigned after admitting he engaged in an extramarital affair with hagiographer Paula Broadwell, whose book on Mr. Petraeus was titled "All In."
Winner of the 2012 Jill Kelley Award for 911 Call Transcript That Sounds Most Like Lost Lyrics from "I Am the Walrus" — After news crews came to the home of Jill Kelley, the Tampa, Fla., socialite and associate of Mr. Petraeus, she called an emergency dispatcher and said "I'm an honorary consul general, so I have inviolability."
Not-so-secret servicing — After a member of a Secret Service advance team got into a heated argument with a Colombian escort over compensation, nearly a dozen agents resigned or were fired when an investigation revealed widespread use of prostitutes.
On the plus side, there's at least one federal agency that would never create a national scandal by arguing over compensation — Employees of the General Services Administration were blasted by Congress for holding a 2010 Las Vegas conference that cost taxpayers $830,000 and included $6,325 for commemorative coins and $3,200 for a session with a mind reader.
Surprisingly, none of the trades involved Facebook's IPO — A JPMorgan Chase banker nicknamed "The London Whale" incurred $6.2 billion in trading losses, prompting a federal investigation.
Surprisingly, not a single word mentioned Facebook's IPO — Goldman Sachs lost $2.15 billion of its market value after a former employee wrote a scathing New York Times op-ed column accusing the firm of being more driven by profits than its clients' best interests.
"Trust me: I know structurally flawed banking systems" — Following a massive scandal involving United Kingdom banks fixing the Libor interbank lending rate, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told a Senate committee that the Libor system was "structurally flawed."
Just imagine if the Maps app actually worked — Apple became the world's most valuable company.
Or, as it's also known, "water" — A store in New York City's East Village reportedly was selling "artisanal water."
The Republic is saved! — Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that the company's Washington-area stores would write "Come Together" on customers' coffee cups to encourage lawmakers to reach a long-term budget agreement.
Science and technology
Because a particle named for Mitt Romney's position on health care or the Obama administration's Benghazi explanations would have been a total mouthful — Scientists announced in July that they had discovered a new particle that may be the elusive Higgs boson, nicknamed the "God particle" for being everywhere and elusive at the same time.
Donald Trump works for NASA? — After the chief scientist for NASA's Mars rover Curiosity said that soil sample data gathered by the machine was destined "for the history books" — setting off frenzied speculation that the rover had discovered organic compounds — the agency clarified that it actually had found water, sulfur and chlorine-containing substances.
Well, that's one way to prepare for the fiscal cliff — Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner set a record for the highest sky-dive by jumping off a balloon 24 miles above Earth and landing safely.
Hey, look — it's Congress' approval rating! — Hollywood director James Cameron became the first human to solo dive to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean's 6.8 mile-deep Marianas Trench.
Someone alert the Nobel Prize committee — Prominent theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking called women "a complete mystery."
In related news, someone cared about the words in a Psy song — "Gangnam Style" Korean pop star Psy apologized for lyrics he rapped in 2004 that called for the deaths of American troops serving in Iraq.
In unrelated news, "50 Shades of Grey" sold more than 30 million copies worldwide — No 2012 Pulitzer Prize was awarded in the fiction category.
Right, just like Batman's pointy helmet is clearly a nod to Mr. Obama's ears — Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said the name of main villain in "The Dark Knight Rises" — Bane, a comic-book character created in 1993 — was a Hollywood attempt to smear Mr. Romney's former firm, Bain Capital.
Stay classy, NBC — While other programs observed a national moment of silence in memory of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, NBC's "Today" aired a live interview in which Kardashian momager Kris Jenner discussed breast implants.
Because a Psy costume would have been offensive — Singer Chris Brown dressed up as a Taliban fighter on Halloween.
Pot. Kettle. Black. Discuss — Soon after Lance Armstrong declared he would no longer fight the United States Anti-Doping Agency because of "unfairness" and an investigation that was "just not right," his seven Tour de France victories were voided and he was banned from competitive cycling for life upon USADA's release of a voluminous report detailing his involvement in the "most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."
Another job creator punished — Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino was fired after lying to school officials about crashing his motorcycle while transporting his mistress, whom he previously helped get a job with the school's athletic department.
T.J. Lang for president! — The National Football League's lockout of its regular officials came to a rapid end after mistake-prone replacement referees prompted national ridicule and scorn, including a tweet from Green Bay player T.J. Lang reading, "[Expletive] it NFL. Fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs."
And with that, he stepped into his flux capacitor-powered DeLorean and returned to 1967 — Noting that Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is black, has a white fiancee and may be a Republican, ESPN pundit Rob Parker asked on television whether Mr. Griffin was "a cornball brother" and "really down with the cause."
None of the above
Actually, 25,000 signatures seems kind of low — An online petition on the White House's official public suggestion page calling for the construction of a real-world Death Star received the 25,000 signatures required for an official government response.
After we build that Death Star, can we use it on the Internet? — A Hulk Hogan sex tape was leaked online.
Apocalypse not now — Contrary to a pop-culture misinterpretation of the ancient Mayan Long Calendar, the world did not end on Dec. 21.
Just as the Mayan Long Calendar predicted — Actress Lindsay Lohan already has two court dates set for January 2013.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
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