As I mentioned yesterday, I'm taking part in a panel on Tuesday, hosted by TIME, that will be debating who should be the magazine's 2006 "Person of the Year."
The panel is being moderated by TIME Editor Rick Stengel. My fellow panelists include Brian Williams, Emilio Estevez, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and Tom DeLay (can't wait to see who the Hammer's pick will be.)
My first, second, and third picks for the honor are Jack Murtha, Jack Murtha, and Jack Murtha (and here's why). But since it would be a very short discussion if we all just offered up our top choice and let it go at that, I've decided to float some other options.
According to TIME, the Person of the Year is the person who "most affected the news and our lives this year, for good or for ill." With that in mind, here are my other-than-Murtha picks:
North Korea's Kim Jong Il, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hezzbolah's Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah (aka The Axis of Evil v. 2.0): For joining the nuclear club without an invitation (Kim). For calling "Nuclear Next!" (Ahmadinejad). For adding "Katyusha" to the list of vocabulary words we'd rather not know (Nasrallah). For making Mel Gibson look like a Zionist in comparison (Ahmadinehjad and Nasrallah). For bringing the world that much closer to apocalypse (all three).
Al Gore: For telling the truth about climate change, no matter how inconvenient. For kneecapping Fitzgerald's ridiculous notion that there are no second acts in American life. For making PowerPoint cool.
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert: For providing punchlines with a purpose. For holding our leaders' feet to the fire -- and turning up the gas. For "truthiness," "godless sodomites," "Dead to Me" and "Mess o' Potamia." For proving that great satire can be a weapon of mass illumination.
Dr. A. Q. Khan: For being the Johnny Appleseed of nuclear technology. For making very big bucks selling the promise of very big bangs to very bad people. His radioactive seeds are now sprouting in North Korea and Iran, profoundly destabilizing the world.
Warren Buffet: For becoming the poster child for mega-philanthropy by pledging to donate 85 percent of his $44 billion fortune to charity -- the largest such donation in U.S. history. For showing that his nickname, the "Sage of Omaha," wasn't just about picking hot stocks.
Dick Cheney: For turning the affable, bipartisan, uniter-not-a-divider Governor W of Texas into the fanatical, with-us-or-against-us POTUS 43. For never failing to see the dark side of things -- except when it comes to Iraq. For providing endless fodder for news shows, bloggers, and comics by shooting his friend in the face. For refusing to do the right thing and follow his pal Rummy out the door.
YouTube: For making it possible to see everything we want to see, when we want to see it (what would the year have been like without Lonelygirl15, all those exploding Mentos-and-Coke videos, or being able to watch Jim Nabors sing the Beatles with Leslie Uggams?). For changing the political landscape by making it clear to politicians: do or say something unintentionally revealing and you'll be on YouTube in no time flat. For helping turn George Allen's presidential aspirations and Senate career into a huge pile of Macaca.
The Black Eyed Peas' Fergie: For torturing us with moronic, double-entendre-laden songs that we just couldn't get out of our heads. "My Humps" and "London Bridge" should be against the Geneva Conventions.