Paul Jacob

Okay, so it's 2006. Is this really news? Did we think that 2007 might somehow slip in first?

For most, it's "another day, another holiday"; for columnists, it's an excuse for year-end reviews. Such reviews can be work. And I don't particularly like work. (Was I supposed to be taking notes?)

Appropriate, then, for me to begin with (let the dots stand for a drum roll) . . .

The 'We Just Make It Up' Award! This celebrates the most bald-faced denial of reality, law, or basic common sense during calendar year 2005. The competition was fierce.

The most obvious contender was the unbelievable but all-too-real U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. New London, the case about the city government that is taking homes through eminent domain only to hand the land over to a private developer who will build a complex producing more tax dollars for the politicians. This may be the most unpopular High Court decision in history.

But that's too easy.

Also in the running was the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Raich, where a majority of the court, including Justice Scalia, ruled that "interstate commerce" can include commerce that doesn't cross state lines and, thus, isn't "interstate" at all, and, in fact, can include activity that isn't commerce, either.

But 2005's winning departure from reality (or honesty) is far less well known. Back in spring, the Ray C. Bliss Institute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron released a poll of Ohioans' opinions on term limits. The Bliss Institute news release about the poll stated, "Ohioans may support lengthening terms from the current eight years to 12."

Turns out that the poll respondents were asked specifically, "Would a term limit of twelve years be acceptable to you?" And, by a better than two to one margin, Ohioans said, "No." Weakening term limits was unacceptable. But this established educational and policy group ignored the actual answers voters gave to their poll's questions and just made up their own spin. Award-winning!

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.