¶ Every year at this time I compile the Lowlights of 2008, a list of the staggeringly stupid things that people in our state do. Here is the latest. Also, the photo is not one of the Lowlights. I just needed something to break up all the words.
¶ By Nicholas K. Geranios
¶ Associated Press Writer
¶ SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ When Shakespeare wrote "what fools these mortals be," he obviously wasn't thinking about residents of Washington state. But fools we often be.
¶ The Lowlights of 2008 include college football, election mudslinging and a song about a sinister Santa.
¶ Below is a survey of some of the lowest acts of the year in the Evergreen State. As usual, this is only a random sample, as it would be impossible to chronicle all the stupid and heinous acts that occur in the state each year.
¶ BAD SANTA: An already bizarre battle over which holiday displays would be allowed at the state capitol veered into a true lowlight when the gay-hating Westboro Baptist Church entered the fray. The group wrote a charming holiday ditty called "Santa Claus Will Take You To Hell," which claimed the jolly old elf was a false idol who brought child sexual abuse, economic disaster and eternal damnation. The group demanded the song be placed next to existing decorations that included an atheist message, prompting the state to ban all requests for additional displays.
¶ HUSKY BAILOUT: In the midst of a massive budget shortfall, University of Washington boosters pushed for taxpayers to contribute $150 million toward a $300 million overhaul of Husky Stadium, which is in even worse shape than the football team. When some Washington State fans objected at a hearing, UW uber-booster Ron Crockett called them "fools," proving that losing the Apple Cup went pretty deep with some people.
¶ STICK A FORKS IN IT: The Olympic Peninsula town of Forks, best known for a stupefying amount of rainfall each year, is enjoying a tourist boom thanks to the "Twilight" books and movie. "Twilight" is about hot-looking teenage vampires who live in Forks, and fans have been visiting the community to revel in the setting. Marcia Bingham of the Forks Chamber of Commerce said the town's rain and gloom are just perfect for this crowd. "We all know vampires can't be out if it's bright."
¶ MONORAIL BLUES: When the aging Seattle monorail broke down in mid-December, the 15 stranded passengers included an 86-year-old man who said he was a monorail driver back when it was first built for the 1962 World's Fair.
¶ OUCH: In March, the state paid $15,000 to a Kelso man who was forcibly catheterized after an arrest for investigation of drunken driving. Matthew Clifford Arthur had refused to provide urine and blood samples after a traffic stop, so officers got them the hard way.
¶ BLOWING COOKIES: In September, a man who ate moldy cookies in the King County Jail sued the county for pain, suffering and emotional distress. Moses Wiggins, 41, says he didn't notice the mold until he had eaten half the bag, and that it caused vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.
¶ BADA BING!: In the hotly contested governor's race, supporters of Republican Dino Rossi put up billboards in Eastern Washington exhorting residents not to let Seattle "steal" this election, implying that's what happened in the 2004 race when Christine Gregoire won. Meanwhile, the state Democratic Party was forced to change an ad that showed Rossi, accompanied by the theme song from "The Sopranos," a television show about homicidal mobsters.
¶ WHO'S THE IDIOT?: In October, a Seattle man was accused of a hate crime for allegedly threatening his neighbor's autistic son. Mark J. Levison was arrested after yelling that he, "did not want to see that idiot staring at my house." Levison was already under a court order to stay away from the family after he threatened to burn down their house in July if they didn't keep the 13-year-old boy out of his sight.
¶ THE YAKIMA OF CALIFORNIA: For two decades, a sign proclaiming, "Welcome to Yakima: The Palm Springs of Washington" greeted motorists on Interstate 82 in the city. The sign came down for about a year because of construction, but was put up again in February. "I've heard people say, 'Who was the idiot who put that up?' but that doesn't bother me," sign owner Gary Lukehart said.
¶ THIRD DEGREE: In December, the Washington State Patrol said nine troopers allegedly bought fake college degrees from a Spokane diploma mill to boost their pay. The Thurston County prosecutor will decide if the troopers, on paid leave, will face charges. Troopers get a 4 percent raise for a four-year degree and 2 percent more for a master's.
¶ HOMELAND INSECURITY: A federal building security guard in Spokane who used high-tech cameras to watch women undress in nearby buildings pleaded guilty to felony voyeurism. Darin Earl Wanless used rooftop camera equipment in the post office to ogle women on two dozen occasions. He was fired and must register as a sex offender for the next decade.< ^___= ^SPECIAL SPORTS LOWLIGHTS= ¶ COLLEGE FOOTBALL: The University of Washington was the only winless team in the country, going 0-12 and firing its coach. Washington State went 2-11 and gave up more points than any team in college football history. Both were national laughingstocks. The Huskies hired a new coach, Steve Sarkisian, who shares the same last name as Cher. That raises the possibility of a "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" slogan for UW next season. ¶ SUBSONIC: The Seattle SuperSonics of the NBA were stolen away to Oklahoma City, where they sank to new lows of basketball futility. ¶ SEAHAWKS: The Seattle Seahawks made some fans wish they'd move to Oklahoma City. ¶ MARINERS: The Seattle Mariners last season became the first team with a $100 million payroll to lose 100 games in a season. ¶