Because my investigative work helped expose corruption in the Kremlin and all I got was this lousy case of radiation poisoning...
As promised Bleacher Bums: The Industry is up and running at full capacity this week after an all-too-predictable Turkey Day massacre. How 'bout a hearty welcome for our new security coordinator, Vladimir Putin.
From Russia with...Polonium 210: International tensions are still running high this week after the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB spy who'd drawn the ire of the Putin administration after accusing his superiors of murdering Russian billionaire Boris Berzovsky. Litvinenko died in London after being exposed to Polonium 210, an exceedingly rare radioactive element that many observers have taken as evidence of high-level, Cold War-style government involvement. In Philadelphia, Rocky Balboa expressed profound regret that his poignant "If I can change" speech after his bout with Ivan Drago seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
From Russia with...Polonium 211: Putin, for his part, has adamantly denied any involvement in the Litvinenko saga. In a tense press conference over the weekend, the Russian president read a prepared statement before turning over the floor to Moscow's special emissary for London affairs, Maria Sharapova.
From Russia with...Polonium 211a: Sharapova answered reporters' questions with a series of primal, sexually suggestive grunts.
From Russia with...Polonium 211b: It was the most popular press conference in Russian history.
From Russia with...Polonium 212: Speaking of sultry Soviet tennis starlets, the half-life of Polonium 210 is 138 days—or roughly equivalent to the half-life of Anna Kournikova's hard court career.
From Russia with...Polonium 212a: And yes, that's a dig born entirely of unrequited uber-lust.
From Russia with...Polonium 212a.1: And no, to clarify—nothing you do with a laptop and a bottle of EasyLube can ever requite anything.
From Russia with...Polonium 212a.1.i: No matter how hard you squeeze.
From Russia with...Polonium 212a.1.ii: Or how softly you sob yourself to sleep at night.
Elsewhere on the geopolitical front, NATO leaders gathered at a summit in Latvia to discuss the future of Afghanistan, where more than 30,000 NATO troops are locked in a pitched battle with insurgent Taliban forces. Despite mounting violence in the country's southern and eastern provinces, the dignitaries expressed hope for Afghanistan's future under President Hamid Karzai. On a more dour note, a summit spokesman said that the future of the BCS is much less certain—and that the maligned institution may in fact be "royally screwed" if Arkansas wins this weekend.
Party Pope-er the First: In religious affairs, Pope Benedict XVI toured Turkey this week, where he looked to mend fences two months after sending the Muslim world into an uproar with a September speech that many observers decried as Islamophobic. Papal insiders indicated that the Pontiff sought to approach his visit with the same spirit of humility and deference that Notre Dame so piously displayed in getting shellacked by USC.
Party Pope-er the Second: Benedict drew sharp rebuke in September for citing the words of an ancient Byzantine emperor who had accused the Prophet Muhammad of bringing things "only evil and inhuman" into the world. The pope initially expressed surprise at the harsh reaction, claiming that his intent had merely been to foster a "dialogue" with the world's Muslim population. The Vatican subsequently fired its cultural sensitivity minister, Michael Irvin.
Finally this week, President Bush met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Jordan to discuss the future of the Baghdad government. Some skeptics expressed concern that the two men were essentially powerless to contain the ever-escalating violence in Iraq, but supporters argued that the conference did achieve a measure of substantial progress: Maliki took UCLA and the points, while Bush promised to bring the burgers and the beers. Perhaps the Middle East isn't such a lost cause after all.
And on that note, boys and girls...another one bites the dust. As always, thanks for playing—and be sure to drop by again next Friday, when celebrity ornithologist Michael Vick will explain the difference, for all of us, between a flipped bird and a flopped Falcon...