And the nominees are…

The excitement is building to a fever pitch as we prepare to announce the nominees for this year’s "What a Load of Crap" awards. The big news is that, for the first time in the history of this storied event, you the citizens will be in on the voting to decide who among the nominees will be taking home a Crappie.

As loyal followers of the PWB know, about this time every year we set aside one evening for a grand, taxpayer-funded extravaganza down at Buzzy’s 8 Ball Lounge. Dressed to the nines in our best bowling shirts, we slop our way through a big tasty meal, drink too much, enjoy table-side spa treatments and, eventually, hand out the coveted Crappies to the year’s biggest tools. ESPN has asked to broadcast next year’s event but I suspect live coverage would ruin the ambiance.

While the Academy Awards and other similar events rely on a secretive voting process to determine who gets the hardware, the Crappies will depend on the good folks across America. But remember, voting is a somber responsibility … whether it be for a national or local election, or for deciding who gets one of these little golden shovels stuck in a golden pile of poo. This year’s trophies have been upgraded to include a bigger poo pile along with a special scratch 'n’ sniff feature.

Without further delay, a representative from the accounting firm of Fenster & Smote, the official accountants of the PWB, has handed me this year’s categories and nominees. The voting lines will be open through the end of Oct. 20. While past tradition holds one person-one vote, under the new ACORN rules we will allow for multiple votes from the same individual.

All votes sent in to peoplesweeklybrief@hotmail.com will be tallied by interns number two and three, crosschecked by Bobo the talking intern and given the once over by Fenster himself. We’ll announce winners in next week’s column.

And now ladies and gentlemen, we present this year’s nominees:

1. Category: Best politician (male)

a) John McCain, for his role as the underdog in the long running series, “That’s My Sarah.”

b) Joe Biden, for his performance in "Candidates Say the Darndest Things."

c) Barack Obama, as the lead in the surprise hit musical "My Big Fat Socialist Government."

d) Hillary Clinton, in a crossover role as the tough guy in the one-season wonder, "How’d I Lose to These Nancies?"

2. Category: Best politician (female)

a) Nancy Pelosi, for her performance as the entire Greek chorus in the revival of "Blameless in Washington."

b) Sarah Palin, appearing in her debut role as the pitbull in "Bite Me," screenplay by John McCain.

c) Hillary Clinton, in her second nomination of the night, for her turnaround performance in the one-woman show "No Really, Barack’s My Guy, Seriously"

d) Claire McCaskill and Kay Bailey Hutchison, appearing opposite each other in the fall miniseries, "Blow My Party Line Horn"

3. Category: Most Disingenuous Performance (male or female)

a) Barney Frank, for acting as if he had nothing to do with the economic crisis.

b) Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers, for acting as if he had nothing to do with the economic crisis.

c) John McCain and Barack Obama, appearing together in the comedy special "Two Men, One Economy, No Clue."

d) The American Public, for acting as if we had nothing to do with the economic crisis (special group presentation to include all those who bought over their heads, demanded instant gratification, saved nothing and valued stuff over substance).

4. Category: Best Performance by a Corporation or Financial Institution

a) American International Group (AIG), for their lavish production "Spa Treatment Spectacular," advance ticket sales approaching $123 Billion.

b) Goldman Sachs, appearing in the action thriller "Last Man Standing," executive producer Hank Paulson.

c) Lehman Brothers, a repeat nominee, this time for their timely shareholder song and dance routine "Hey We’re Fine, Whoops We’re Gone."

d) Corporate America, Wall Street and supporting cast of global financial players, for their collaboration in the epic "House of Cards."

And finally, the often ignored foreign category;

5. Category: Top Dictator (foreign, male or female)

a) President Ahmadinejad, Iran, for his role in Tehran’s longest running hit "Nukes to You."

b) President Chavez, Venezuela, for his performance in the Latin American production of "My Big Fat Socialist Government."

c) President Medvedev, Russia, for superlative acting in this fall’s indie smash "Georgia Started It," screenplay by Vladimir Putin.

d) President Mugabe, Zimbabwe, appearing in the long running tragedy, "Screw the People."

6. Category: Peoples Choice – Biggest Yutz, 2008

This is a write-in selection, open to foreign or domestic, male or female.

So there you have it. Fix yourself a refreshing beverage, ponder the possibilities and send in your selections to peoplesweeklybrief@hotmail.com. Your investment portfolio may currently be in the toilet, but you can still have a say in who walks away with the Crappies.

Mike Baker served for more than 15 years as a covert field operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, specializing in counterterrorism, counternarcotics and counterinsurgency operations around the globe. Since leaving government service, he has been a principal in building and running several companies in the private intelligence, security and risk management sector, including most recently Prescience LLC, a global intelligence and strategy firm. He appears frequently in the media as an expert on such issues. Baker is also a partner in Classified Trash, a film and television production company. Baker serves as a script consultant, writer and technical adviser within the entertainment industry, lending his expertise to such programs as the BBC's popular spy series "Spooks," as well as major motion pictures.