- The Washington Times - Friday, June 2, 2006

Nobles: Katharine Close, for winning the 79th Scripps National Spelling Bee and being the first girl to do so since 1999.

You know you’re out of your league in the National Spelling Bee when you didn’t even the know the winning word was a word. Well, the eighth grader from Spring Lake, N.J., knew it was, but, more importantly, she knew how to spell it: U-R-S-P-R-A-C-H-E — ursprache — which means a reconstructed, hypothetical parent language. Sounds more like something you cough up in the morning.

Kerry, as she is known, outlasted 12 other finalists of the Bee Thursday night, which at times was as nerve racking to watch as the final seconds of an NCAA Tournament game. There was third-place Saryn Hooks, who was eliminated in Round 8 only to return when the judges realized that she had in fact spelled “hechsher” right. (And don’t you think correcting the judges ought to come with its own trophy?) Top-ranked Rajiv Tarigopula, widely expected to win the Bee, fell in Round 11 by misspelling heiligenschein, whose definition includes dewey grass, the sun and halos. Suffice it to say, you’ll probably never use it in a sentence.

By the end it was just Kerry and Finola Hackett of Alberta, Canada, who battled it out mano a mano for seven straight rounds. Finally, in Round 19, Finola misspelled “weltschmertz.” (What’s the deal with German words, by the way?)

Whether the words had Hawaiian, Greek, Babylonian (yes) or Latin roots, Kerry and her fellow contestants put most viewers to shame with their brilliant performances — making them all Nobles of the week.

Knaves: Helen Thomas, who could learn a thing or two from this week’s Nobles.

No one much cares anymore what the “Dean of the White House Press Corps” says these days unless it’s something silly, which is often enough. So in the spirit of Spelling Bee week, here’s an exchange between Miss Thomas and White House Press Secretary Tony Snow:

Miss Thomas: Why did the president pick a man [Karl Zinsmeister] who is so contemptible of the public servants in Washington to be his domestic adviser…?

Mr. Snow: Apparently an opinion that’s…

Miss Thomas: Why would he pick such a man to be a domestic adviser?

Mr. Snow: You meant contemptuous as opposed to contemptible, I think.

Yes, she did.

For a contemptible display, Helen Thomas is the Knave of the week.


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