Winners & Losers Of The Year (2006) – Part One

With December just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the year 2006 before it leaves us completely.  I know.  It’s too early.  I can hear you saying, “But we still have one month to go!”  I agree.  But pretty soon, all of us will be bombarded by media retrospectives from various TV programs, the radio, the Internet, numerous magazines and countless newspapers.  So, I’ve proposed a compromise. 
 
Even though these year-in-review type deals always start way too early and pretend to be comprehensive (the month of December is frequently ignored), I’m beginning my own retrospective by taking a different approach.  Starting today, I’ll be looking back at 2006 in a series of pieces rather than cramming all my thoughts into one giant posting.
 
Let’s begin with the first installment, the winners and losers of the year:
 
Winner:  Howard Stern
 
Ignore most of what you read in the mainstream press about this man.  He had one hell of a year.  After some 14 months of self-promotion on terrestrial radio, Howard Stern finally made the jump to Sirius Satellite Radio on January 9th.  And what a start it was:  George Takei joining the gang as the program’s official announcer, Howard shooting down false reports that he secretly got married to longtime gal pal, Beth Ostrosky, and all those revelations. 
 
As the year progressed, the show never seemed to be out of the news.  There was Wilmer Valderrama’s famous appearance where he talked about all the hot famous chicks he was nailing, Henry Hill’s gay sex tape, Jenna Jameson christening the Sybian sex machine, Carmen Electra getting in trouble for doing the same thing, Crazy Cabbie’s release from prison after his tax evasion conviction last year, Pete Townshend and Rachel Hunter bailing on the show, Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon’s Michael Richards stories, the return of Andrew Dice Clay, Dee Snider and Richard Simmons, a guy claiming to have had an affair with Clay Aiken, the introduction of new Wack Pack member, Big Foot Mark, the Howard Stern Film Festival, the return of Jackie Martling, the roasts, Howard’s plastic surgery and so much more. 
 
Stern joined a company that had 600,000 listeners and singlehandedly convinced over 5 million more to sign up.  That’s pretty close to almost half of his own audience from the K-Rock era, but it’s only a matter of time before all of us (including me) join the revolution.  That being said, Sirius is now neck and neck with its rival, XM, with regards to subscriptions and that’s all because of Stern. 
 
Besides the reinvigorated and now uncensored radio show, Stern started his first year at Sirius with a lot of experimental programming.  There are the popular mainstays like Superfan Roundtable, The Wrap-Up Show (which immediately follows The Howard Stern Show), and The Howard 100 News.  And he’s even brought guys like Scott Ferrall and Bubba The Love Sponge on board, as well.
 
Another great success was the acquisition of 20 years worth of past K-Rock broadcasts, one of the sticking points of a fruitless and extremely self-damaging lawsuit filed by Les Moonves and CBS Radio.  Now, every Friday, fans get to relive, or experience for the first time, classic Stern between 1985 and 2005.  No more chopped-up broadcasts, no more FCC.  These shows are aired now with fewer commercials than before (making the reruns way shorter than the new shows) at the end of the week (replacing The Friday Show) and on days when the gang are on holidays.  They’ve named these special re-broadcasts, MasterTape Theatre.
 
As for the current show, even reading about the daily show happenings here and here are funny and entertaining in their own right.  With guests like Joan Rivers, the Hogan family, Barbara Walters, Jenna Jameson, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Wilmer Valderrama, Roger Daltrey, Martina Navratilova, Ant, Gilbert Gottfried, Ivan Reitman, Danny Bonaduce, Jay Thomas, Jon Stewart, Roger Ebert, Richard Roeper, Donald Trump, Kid Rock, Rosanna Arquette, the Osbournes, Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Mr. T, Henry Rollins, Jenny McCarthy, Jimmy Kimmel, Meat Loaf, The Dixie Chicks, Rob Zombie, Kathy Griffin, and so many more, it’s no wonder millions are tuning in every morning.  Here’s hoping the next four years are even more successful.
 
Loser:  Rev. Ted Haggard
 
This dispicable hypocrite went from being a pal of the religious right to persona non grata in a matter of seconds.  The reason?  Despite being a supposedly straight and happily married father of 5 and the founder of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado, Reverend Ted was secretly having an affair with a gay prostitute and doing drugs.  How do we know this?  Mike Jones, the gay prostitute in question, came forward and even played a voice message Haggard left for him when he was looking to score some drugs.  (For more details on the story, check out Reverend Ted Is In Denial.) 
 
The publicly anti-gay crusader Haggard went from being the head of the National Association of Evangelicals and President Bush’s close, personal pal to a national disgrace.  He lost all his important gigs in the evangelical movement and it was amazing how quickly his fellow preachers pretended not to really know him all that well.  James Dobson, the founder of Focus On The Family, once said he would try to “heal” Haggard of his homosexuality but on Larry King Live recently, he said he has now abandoned that idea.  I wonder if he’s really serious about staying his “friend”.  We shall see.
 
Despite being angry with Reverend Ted, I also feel sorry for him.  Here’s yet another repressed gay man who has been indocrinated by so much religious bullshit in his life it has screwed him up for decades.  I also feel sorry for his family who are the real victims of this scandal.  Since the story died down, Haggard has pretty much disappeared from the public eye.  One wonders what will happen next.
 
Winner:  Howard Dean
 
I can’t tell you how much it continues to annoy me that Howard Dean is still getting goofed on for that silly scream he let out during the run-up to the last Presidential election.  (Today’s cover of The Toronto Sun refers to him as “The Scream”.)  Enough already.  Yes, it was very funny but I will never understand how that could possibly undermine a campaign for President.  Being chronically inarticulate hasn’t stopped President Bush from winning elections.
 
At any event, Dean rebounded big time.  He became the head of The Democratic National Committee and despite receiving tons of grief from insiders about his “50-state” election strategy, the 2006 midterm results made him look like a genius.  A number of Democrats questioned the logic of trying to make inroads in places where they generally don’t do very well.  Dean, rightly, ignored their cluelessness and rewarded his party with control of The Senate and The House Of Representatives, a story so important The Toronto Sun never put it on the cover.  (By comparison, The National Post, The Toronto Star and The Globe & Mail all had front page stories on the historic victory.)
 
As far as I know, he’s been against the second Iraq War long before it became the majority opinion in America.  (I’ve always been against it, too.)  However, I don’t always agree with him.  He’s for the drug war, I want it ended.  He’s for gay civil unions but not gay marriage.  For me, it’s gay marriage or nothing at all.  Despite that, as Bill Maher has pointed out on more than one occasion, he is the spine of The Democratic Party.
 
Loser:  Karl Rove 
 
The media have been kissing this guy’s ass for so long it was only a matter of time before reality destroyed his reputation, hopefully for good.  Just before the 2006 midterms, there was a book out called The Way To Win, written by Mark Halperin of ABC News and John Harris of The Washington Post.  According to Eric Boehlert, it’s nothing more than a love letter to Karl Rove.  I wonder how well it’s selling these days.  (#6786 on Amazon.com, as of this writing.) 
 
On June 22nd, Harris said, “If I were them [meaning the Democrats], I’d be scared to death about November’s elections.”  Good one, John.
 
Karl Rove, himself, thought he had nothing to worry about, at least publicly, as he told NPR’s Robert Siegel on the October 24th edition of All Things Considered:  “…I’m looking at all these [election races], Robert, and adding them up, and I add up to a Republican Senate and a Republican House. You may end up with a different math, but you’re entitled to your math, I’m entitled to the math.”  What a genius.
 
Furthermore, during the same interview, he claimed to have seen a “poll showing that [Sen. George] Allen is pulling away in the Virginia Senate race.”  As we all know, Jim Webb edged Allen ever so slightly to beat the racist incumbent.  0 for 2, Karl.
 
How long will he remain “Bush’s Brain” in the White House?  Will he be gone sooner than later?  Will he ever pay for being part of the plot to expose undercover CIA Agent Valerie Plame?  Could it be true that The Republican Party’s remaining supporters are Southerners and nobody else?  One thing’s for sure.  The bloom is off this fat, balding rose.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, November 30, 2006
6:38 p.m.
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Published in: on November 30, 2006 at 7:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

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