The week in review

Worst flashback to the Nixon era: President George Bush appoints Nixonian Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to head a commission to investigate the events of September 11.

Best break with party leadership: Rep. Virgil Goode writes Bush to suggest a candidate other than Kissinger to head the September 11th Commission, Bob Gibson reports in the Daily Progress.

Best jump into the House of Representatives Republican leadership: Rep. Eric Cantor is named Chief Deputy Majority Whip, reporting to Majority Whip Roy Blunt.

Best UVA Cabinet connection: CSX chairman John Snow, who earned his Ph.D. at UVA and taught here, could be the next Secretary of the Treasury.

Worst choice for a heist: The Dollar Tree? Three men are charged with breaking into trailers behind the discount store and taking more than $130 worth of Christmas lights on November 29, reports Reed Williams in the Progress. The trio is less successful when they break into an Advance Auto Parts trailer on Pantops Mountain.

Best sign the chair of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority is no longer guaranteed a rubber-stamped reappointment: Former county supervisor Forrest Marshall and Albemarle County Service Authority head Randy Parker are vying for the seat UVA prof Rich Collins now holds and wants to keep, Peter Savodnik reports in the Progress.

Worst development in the ongoing Brown Schools of Virginia saga: Four new citations are added to the 100-plus the mental health facility has racked up since January 2001, according to Claudia Pinto in the Progress.

Best appointment to the Department of Homeland Security: Charlottesville public works director Judith Mueller is one of 14 experts named to an emergency response committee.

Worst loss for UVA's public relations: Spokeswoman Louise Dudley will retire December 31 after 11 years as head of university relations.

Best grant winner: UVA English prof Jerome McGann nabs $1.5 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to study digital technology in literature and the humanities.

Worst news for frequent flyers: The world's second largest carrier, United Airlines, files for bankruptcy.

Best reason to play hooky from work: Four inches of snow on December 5.

Best Progress  page-turner: Williams' story of a Louisa woman giving birth in a stranger's house during the snowstorm.

Worst hostage situation: Maurice Cordell Kelly holds a knife to two probation officers before surrendering December 4.

Worst career track of a former Wahoo: Edward Chen receives 36 years for the murder of his parents and older brother in northern Virginia.

Best lawsuit involving a Wiccan: The ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State file suit against the Chesterfield County board of supervisors, which has refused to allow a Wiccan to open their meetings with a prayer, preferring instead prayers in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Best ecumenical efforts: On December 3, Mayor Maurice Cox is on the cover of the Progress, lighting a giant menorah on the fourth night of Hanukah. The next day's cover has Cox lighting a Christmas tree at the Omni. Upcoming cover: Cox lighting Kwaanza candles?

Best additions to the world of public television: Winemaker Patricia Kluge and her husband, William Moses, are elected to the board of Commonwealth Public Broadcasting, which includes WHTJ channel 41.

Best chance to grab a piece of Jeffersonia: Sotheby's will auction a three-page letter from Thomas Jefferson detailing the objectives of the Lewis and Clark expedition December 13, according to Carlos Santos in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The letter is expected to fetch between $500,000 and $700,000.

Best holiday tale: The Progress reports that honest teen Gordon Sutker turns in a wad of cash he finds on the ground at the downtown amphitheater.