The week in review

Best boost for Howard Dean's presidential campaign: Former vice president Al Gore endorses Dean December 9.

Worst weather: The season's first snow hits December 4.

Worst time to leave the kids in the car for an hour: During the snowstorm, which is what a Scottsville woman did while she had her nails done, Reed Williams reports in the Daily Progress. Jessica Lynn Stuple, 23, is charged with two felony counts of child endangerment and is being held without bond.

Worst phone records for Attorney General Jerry Kilgore: Those showing that the AG's office was advised almost immediately after former Republican party chief Edmund Matricardi listened in on Democrats March 22, 2002, but didn't report the eavesdropping to the Virginia State Police until March 25. George Whitehurst at the Danville Register & Bee digs up the details.

Worst slaying of a federal prosecutor: The body of Jonathan Luna is found December 4 in Pennsylvania, 70 miles away from his Baltimore office.

Worst news for drug dealers: The Supreme Court rules police have to wait only 15 to 20 seconds after knocking before bashing down the door.

Best account of student drug dealing: The Cavalier Daily's Jon Breece gets the story of how one UVA student allegedly pays his way through college in the December 3 issue.

Worst kidnapping: Dru Sjodin disappears November 22 outside a North Dakota mall. Convicted sex offender Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. is arrested and charged with kidnapping but no sign of Sjodin at press time.

Worst history of injury claims: The Florida woman reportedly trampled by Wal-Mart shoppers the day after Thanksgiving, Patricia VanLester, has filed numerous claims against stores, including nine against Wal-Mart, and has netted thousands in settlements.

Worst déjà-vu: Twelve shootings on I-270 in Ohio have killed one woman, conjured images of Muhammed & Malvo, and left motorists fearful of using that stretch of road around Columbus.

Worst opening: The Grapes of Wrath, Live Arts' first production in its new theater, prompts Progress theater critic Clare Aukofer to question the choice, the execution, and this stinging question, "What were you thinking?"

Worst "present" for Christmas-loving apartment dwellers: Virginia's new fire code calls for up to one year in jail or a $2,500 fine for real evergreens in apartments, condos, and churches without sprinkler systems. After the not-surprising public outcry, the state fire marshal leaves it up to local fire officials to decide whether to be a Grinch. Albemarle County exempts apartments and condos.

Best case of "he's baaaack": Developer Lee Danielson will present his plans for a nine-story hotel at the former Boxer Learning building to the Board of Architectural Review December 16, according to the Progress' Elizabeth Nelson.

Worst place to go for a flu vaccine: The Charlottesville-Albemarle Health Department is out.

Best outcome from a run-over arm: As Wolfie's bouncer Kevin Pleasant tries to break up a fight early December 4, a Dodge Ram pickup rolls over his arm. Says Wolfie's owner Allen Powell to the Progress, "He doesn't even have a bruise. His arms are like cannons."

Best finding for Albemarle police officer James Michael Fields: A special prosecutor rules Fields did not use excessive force when he shot drunk-driving suspect Raimond Riviere twice August 16.

Best get for the Miller Center: Former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr discusses the Patriot Act in a December 6 forum.

Best benefit: The Virginia Film Festival screens Cold Mountain December 13, two weeks before the Nicole Kidman-Jude Law film opens nationally.