With high unemployment and a dizzying rate of home foreclosure, 2011 was a challenge for many Southern Nevadans. But, on the bright side, any year that features a political sexting scandal starring a congressman named "Weiner" can't be considered a total loss.
Alas, New York Democrat Anthony Weiner wasn't one of ours, but don't despair. There were still plenty of candidates who qualified for my 22nd annual Bottom 10 stories of the year.
Just last year, David Perelman received my Medal of Dishonor for lying about earning a Purple Heart. Perelman edged the infamous CityCenter "death ray" for best of the weirdest and most embarrassing stories of 2010. This year's lineup is equally fool's gold-plated.
Speaking of gold ...
No. 10: NEVADA MINING CARES. But, you know, not all that much. Gold is at record highs, but in an interview, Nevada Mining Association President Tim Crowley notes with pride that his gilded group has given $4.5 million to Nevada charities. That's a fraction of what many private foundations donate and a veritable fragment of Big Gold's bottom line.
No. 9: VIDEO POKER JUNKIES. Nevada legislators William Horne, Kelvin Atkinson, and Steven Horsford take fancy junkets on the arm of PokerStars at a time the Internet poker company is under federal investigation. Now it's unplugged and under indictment.
No. 8: WARK'S CONDO. Political insider Steve Wark takes a plea deal in the federal investigation of corruption inside local homeowners associations after admitting he helped fix board elections. Makes you wonder what he was up to all these years for the GOP.
No. 7: ELVIS WILL LEAVE THE BUILDING. The foundering "Viva Elvis" at the Aria proves Cirque du Soleil's immensely popular show formula isn't infallible. Its Man from Memphis mishmash fails to make audiences swoon, and the show is likely to close in 2012. Even die-hard Elvis aficionados come away saying, "No thank ya. No thank ya very much."
No. 6: REBELS WITHOUT A CAUSE. Or many wins, for that matter. After going 2-11 in his first season, UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck actually receives a contract extension before leading the team to a 2-10 mark. Fans surmise the best way to improve its record: Play fewer games.
No. 5: HARRY'S EMPLOYMENT AGENCY. It starts at home, as it turns out. When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lobbies on behalf of son Josh for the Henderson city attorney's job, thousands of out-of-work Nevadans start checking their family trees in hopes of qualifying as distant Reid cousins.
No. 4: LIZ'S LEWD DUDE. As if it weren't hard enough to explain her political career, state Sen. Elizabeth Halseth's husband, Daniel Halseth, gets arrested on suspicion of "open and gross lewdness." Of course, that's nothing compared to what most state senators experience at the Legislature every day.
No. 3: ENSIGN FOR SENATE. John Ensign makes sure members of the press are informed that he has every intention of running for re-election -- right up until the time the scandalized senator resigns to save himself from further humiliation.
No. 2: BADWATER MARATHON. Participants in the 2011 Las Vegas Marathon complain that the fire hydrant water they're served hurts their systems. For some reason, many also take offense when reporters ask them if they had good runs.
No. 1: THE REMAKE OF "THELMA & LOUISE." Starring Brad Gallup and Jake Grunwald! In January, Metro officers Gallup and Grunwald get stopped in their patrol car for speeding while on duty -- in Dolan Springs, Ariz., on the road to the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Instead of being terminated for dereliction of duty, or just plain stupidity, they are suspended for only one week without pay.
With so many Las Vegans out of work, it makes some people wonder what a cop has to do to lose his job.
John L. Smith's column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/Smith.