'Tis the season for giving

December 18, 2006

Oh, all right, Christmas is still a week away. But because it's so darned hard to keep fun holiday gifts under wraps, we would like to bestow some early goodies on the well-deserving. So with apologies to anyone overlooked, we have:

For Darrell Issa, the Vista congressman who ran a losing campaign for a Republican leadership spot by saying his opponent had “imaginary friends”: a full morning of “Sesame Street” episodes on “learning to play nice.”

For Mark Foley, the former Florida congressman who pursued congressional pages while serving as co-chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus: a specialist in multiple personality disorders.



For conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, who mocked the Parkinson's disease-related tremors of actor Michael J. Fox: a long trip to a deserted island with the People With Parkinson's Advisory Council.

For the Republican Party, which lost Congress this year after its standard-bearers fed us a regular diet of scandals: some of those painkillers Limbaugh likes so much.

For outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whose handling of the Iraq war was partly blamed for GOP election losses: a wish that he long ago had read Dean Hughes' “The Writing on the Wall.”

For President Bush, who waited until his party lost Congress to heed calls for Rumsfeld's resignation: a hearing aid.

For Duncan Hunter, the Alpine congressman turned presidential candidate who garnered the support of 1 percent of American voters in a new CNN poll: a reality check.

For James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the outgoing Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman and global-warming skeptic: a tour through all the tree stands so confused by the weather that they are sprouting buds in December.

For Nancy Cunningham, who plans to divorce imprisoned Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham after deciding not to many years ago: a meeting with Beverly Hills psychologist Melvyn Kinder, author of “Smart Women, Foolish Choices.”

For Nancy Cunningham's soon-to-be ex-husband: a copy of “Straight Talk About Betrayal.”

For Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat whose first move as incoming House speaker was to support a losing majority leader: some advice from former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, who says a successful politician need only know how to count votes.

For Democrats who seized Congress and who now have their chance to remedy all the national ills they've blamed on Republicans: bumper stickers that say “No More Whining.”

For Jane Harman, the Torrance-area Democrat who lost a bid to be House Intelligence Committee chairwoman because she was on the outs with Pelosi: the consolation that incoming Chairman Silvestre Reyes of Texas can't distinguish Sunni from Shiite.

For Bob Filner, who fought back those who challenged his House Veterans Committee chairmanship because of worries about his temperamental outbursts: some yoga classes, or Prozac, or whatever it takes.

For Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, who insists California failed to get more federal dollars all these years because the GOP was in control: a big yawn.

For outgoing House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who vowed to regain Americans' trust by “prosecuting the bad actors,” then tried to block the House Ethics Committee from investigating former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay: a thorough health exam to check for amnesia.

For Jack Abramoff, the Republican super-lobbyist who pleaded guilty to soliciting legislative favors in return for lavish gifts and trips to lawmakers: an all-expenses-paid stay at the Cumberland prison in Maryland, earning 12 cents to 40 cents an hour.

For Bob Ney, the former GOP congressman from Ohio who pleaded guilty to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in illegal favors from Abramoff and a Syrian businessman called the “Fat Man”: some new friends.

And for the South Dakotans who last month tried unsuccessfully to outlaw abortions for rape and incest victims: some heart transplants.

Dana Wilkie is a Washington-based correspondent for Copley News Service and a longtime observer of California politics and social issues.

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