Friday, January 2, 2004

Last year, your responses made the first annual Nobles and Knaves Contest a huge success. You made it even better this year. Hundreds of entries were sent in before the ball dropped in Times Square, although their final tally was only known after USC had won the college football championship (like the AP, Nobles and Knaves doesn’t depend on computerized rankings).

Blurry eyes and headaches may have led to a few inaccuracies, but the top candidates in both categories emerged fairly quickly. Unsurprisingly, the war on terror had a significant effect on the outcome.

For Knave of the Year, Rep. Charles Rangel earned many nominations for asserting that Saddam Hussein’s sons had been “assassinated.” The unbearably biased BBC took even more votes. See-little-evil Hans Blix saw quite a bit of ire as well. However, Hollywood received most of the heckles. This year, you thumbed your noses and wagged your fingers (both of them) at the sophomoric stuck-up stars of the silver screen who incessantly scolded America and its president in a simple-minded and often obscene fashion. Actor Ed Harris received a score of votes, and Al Franken even more. Helen Thomas (who arguably plays the role of clown in the White House press corps) was named often for claiming that George W. Bush was the “worst president in American history.” Tim Robbins and his loquacious liberal friends who prattled to the public about their supposed censorship so loudly and at such great length that they should have gone hoarse — or better completely voiceless — received even more votes.

Here are your top knaves, followed by the votes they received.

• Traitor Brian Regan: 19

• Ed Harris: 22

• Al Franken: 32

• Charles Rangel: 37

• The BBC: 40

• Hans Blix: 51

• Helen Thomas: 68

• Tim Robbins et al: 90

• Dear Abby: 163*

Dear Abby’s urging of a pregnant teen-ager to a Planned Parenthood clinic gave her the second-highest number of votes for Knave of the Year, but the Editorial Board deemed those results suspect (see below).

Ultimately, it was arguably the most polluted product to ever emerge from the automobile town of Flint, Mich., who pushed your buttons the hardest. His liberal outlook was coupled to a loud mouth and loutish behavior, like his diatribe during his Academy Awards acceptance speech and his despicable description of the heroes of Flight 93 during a performance in London.

With a total of 178 votes, Michael Moore is the Knave of the Year.

Action in Iraq also had a huge effect on the voting for Noble of the Year, although a few civilians also made the top 10. Shoeshiner Albert Lexie, who has given more than $90,000 to a children’s hospital, received a number of votes, as did retired Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal and Frankie Mayo, the founder of Operation Air Conditioner. Most of the rest were related to the military, such as sharp-eyed machine gunner Army Spec. James Ross, honorary veteran Bob Hope, and the members of the National Guard and Reserves, who continue to make awesome sacrifices in service to their country.

Here are your top nobles, followed by the votes they received.

• The Tories who supported British Prime Minister Tony Blair: 14

• Simon Wiesenthal: 15

• Army Spec. Hilario Bermanis: 17

• Army Spec. James Ross: 23

• Frankie Mayo: 27

• Albert Lexie: 36

• Bob Hope: 114

• Members of the National Guard and Reserves: 123

• Patricia Heaton: 372*

Miss Heaton, an Emmy-Award winning actress and an unabashed backer of the right-to-life movement, received far more votes than any other candidate. However, as in the case of Dear Abby, many of those entries were apparently inspired by an e-mail that went to the information list of the group Feminists for Life. We are loathe to discourage responses to this contest or diminish the actions of Miss Heaton, whose public support of the pro-life cause deserves high praise. However, the mailing violated the spirit, if not the letter, of this contest. It is intended to provide you, the readers of the Saturday feature, an opportunity to use your judgment and voice your opinion. Your responses and regular readership are what really give this feature its unique place on the Editorial Page.

So, in its benevolence, and in order to protect the power of the individual voter, the Editorial Board decided to give an “honorable mention” to Miss Heaton, but to bestow the honor of Noble of Year on another. He has been one of staunchest supporters of the United States and one of its most eloquent spokesmen. That determined course cost him dearly. It almost destroyed him. Yet, British Prime Minister Tony Blair neither prevaricated in speech nor veered in course. His support of the Iraq action was unstinting during both the war of words in the British Parliament and the battlefields around Basra.

With a total of 159 votes, the Noble of the Year is British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The fun begins again in this space next week. See you then.

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