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Rating the Best, Worst, and Weirdest of National and International Scenes: 18: 18

Column by Matthew H. Hersch
Opinion Editor
____Anybody remember what they were doing this time last year? I do. The Gulf War was on, and I was just remembering that when I registered for selective service the summer before, I had written on my draft card, "In case of trouble, call me first."

But a year has gone by and it seems all we really remember about the Gulf War is that we lost. There was a coup against Gorbachev. Remember that? A lot happened this year, so, if you will allow me, I will try to put everything into perspective.

The Best, Worst, and Weirdest of 1991:

* Best performance by a politician who was the decade's greatest threat to society until he ran out of money:

Unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate and neo-Nazi David Duke, for proving that voters would rather have a corrupt governor than one with shiny boots.

* Highlander of the Year:

Deng Xiaoping, wrinkled, half-dead high priest of the People's Republic of China, who, by outliving all of his political opponents, has proven that there can be only one.

* Most exciting revolution:

The disintegration of the Soviet Union -- chaos like it was meant to be.

* Most disappointing revolution:

Georgia's liberation from Soviet rule. What do you do when your newly elected president is a lout?

* Biggest heros:

The Gulf War's smart weapons. For one brief moment in history, every little boy in America wanted to grow up to be a Tomahawk cruise missile.

* Bush's Biggest Foreign Blunder:

This is a hard one -- there are so many. OK, try this on for size -- not finishing Saddam off during the War.

* Most forgotten war hero:

Gen H. Norman Schwarzkopf.

* Bush's Biggest Domestic Blunder:

Appointing Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, and proving once and for all that all you need to do to pick justices is match the color on your game piece with the vacancy on the Court.

* Best reason to vote for a Democrat:

George Bush can't stomach domestic affairs.

* Most hidden failure of a Presidential program:

Bush's war on drugs, a military operation in South America, in which US Special Forces trained Peruvian soldiers, who then left the army and sold their skills to drug dealers.

* Brightest hero in these dark times:

Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who proved that even the cerebrally challenged can change history for the better.

* Biggest losers:

Perpetrators of the short-lived coup against former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who sat in their bunkers getting wasted while their tanks turned on them.

* Most forgotten act of war:

Iraq's Scud attack on non-combatant Israel during the Gulf War.

* Most surprising development in the pursuit of peace:

The recent treaty between the government of El Salvador and the local rebels which effectively ends a decade of civil war.

* Best news to come out of Southeast Asia:

Cambodian citizens rebuffed the leaders of the maniacal Khmer Rouge Party when the UN finished the country's civil war cease-fire agreement.

* Most embarrassing mummified corpse:

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, otherwise known as Lenin, the founder of Soviet communism. Chemically preserved and attractively packaged in airtight glass, Lenin's presence in his Moscow tomb is an enduring sign of all the zaniness totalitarian communism had to offer.

* Worst spent aid package:

Saudi Arabia's donation of $500 million to Syria for its participation in the Gulf War, which was promptly used to buy T-72 tanks from Czechoslovakia and Scud missiles to launch at Israel.

* Worst global neighbor:

China, which sold Syria the missiles.

* Civil war that's killed so many journalists that news people stopped covering it:

Serbs vs. Croats in Yugoslavia.

* Matt's Favorite Nation:

Singapore -- same as it ever was.

* Most outrageous act of international barbarism:

The downing by the Yugoslav Air Force of a helicopter carrying European Community truce observers.

* Most outrageous proof that Soviet weapons don't work:

Of the four Soviet-made missiles the fighter plane fired at the helicopter, only one hit.

* Most forgotten man:

Sununu. Sununu who? Who knew Sununu?