Dear readers: Welcome to the final Last Days column of 2004, wherein we cast an eye over the year that was, highlighting those items that continue to clog our veins with rich, buttery regret. Enjoy!

MONDAY, DECEMBER 20 The seeds for Last Days' 2004 Parade of Regret were planted deep and early, as evidenced by our Jan. 2 item on Pat Robertson. Appearing on his 700 Club TV program, Robertson told viewers of his recent communiqué with God, who allegedly informed the tubby televangelist that the 2004 presidential election will see George W. Bush reelected in a landslide. "The Lord has just blessed him," said Robertson of Dubya. "It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad; God picks him up because he's a man of prayer and God's blessing him." Last Days deeply regrets that Robertson was right, and that God was apparently too busy gossiping with Christian Coalition spokesmodels to conduct His legitimate earthly business, such as protecting those four Baptists who fatally drowned in a suction-pumped display pool at a June 20 Sunday school convention in Fort Worth.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 21 Speaking of God: Today we turn to one of our Heavenly Father's most beloved pastimes--victimizing the weak--with a trio of stories confirming that the sins of the Father are visited upon (and perfected by) His sons. First up is July 26's deeply regrettable story of Leopoldo Bernardez and Benny Laoh, the assisted-living caregivers charged with indecent liberties following allegations of sexual contact with "vulnerable elderly residents" at two Shoreline rest homes. According to eyewitnesses, 64-year-old Bernardez was allegedly caught having sex with an 86-year-old female patient suffering from dementia at Shoreline's Aegis facility, while 49-year-old Laoh was allegedly found inserting himself into a sobbing, 94-year-old Alzheimer's patient at Shoreline's Crista Senior Community. Subsequent web searches reveal that Mr. Bernardez pleaded not guilty to the accusations and dropped off the news radar while Mr. Laoh pleaded guilty and is serving an eight-year prison term for second-degree rape.

•• Still, not all vulnerability-hunters are misters: Oct. 19 saw the story of Diane Laurier, the 50-year-old Everett nurse who pleaded guilty to abusing and torturing a severely brain-damaged 5-year-old girl after being caught on surveillance tapes rubbing dirty diapers in the little girl's face, while Aug. 31 brought the saga of a super-mean older woman in Liz Taylor sunglasses on the #26 Metro bus, who drew the ire of Hot Tipper Kelly by mocking and eventually striking an elderly female bus rider stricken with uncontrollable tremors. Regrets all around.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 22 Speaking of regrets: Today we turn to the story that permanently upset more readers than any item since our 1999 sighting of a morbidly obese crippled woman in a fuzzy purple sweatsuit who'd fallen out of her wheelchair onto the gravelly incline outside the Harvard Market QFC. We're speaking, of course, of Gayle Grinds, the 600-pound woman in Stuart, Florida who died after doctors attempted to surgically remove her from her sofa, to which the 40-year-old Grinds had become physically attached, thanks to six years of immobility and countless months of untended excrement, which caused the skin of Ms. Grinds' back to intertwine with the fabric of her couch. Regretful apologies to the many readers who reported experiencing recurring Gayle Grinds-related nightmares since reading of the saga on Aug. 11; may none of you ever have to be surgically removed from anything.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 23 In much lighter news: Today brings an item we regret reporting only because we relied on Hot Tipper testimony rather than investigating for ourselves: Aug. 24's "Get Motivated" seminar at KeyArena. Featuring such success-story speakers as former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, and blond actress Goldie Hawn, the two-day seminar drew an estimated 15,000 attendees and inspired a half-dozen kick-ass Hot Tips, detailing everything from the makeup of the crowd (mostly shy, homely non-smokers) to the nature of the event (described by a Hot Tipping attendee as "a bullshit Republican Jesus-fest"). Still, Last Days lives in eternal regret over missing the motivational droppings of Goldie Hawn, who sped audience members down the chute to success by ordering them to turn to the person on their right and laugh as hard as they could for 15 seconds.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 24 Speaking of negligible success strategies: Today brings the most regrettable news item of 2004 not involving a surgically removed sofa, reported by Last Days on March 30. The setting: An Internet chat room, where 35-year-old Michael Howard arranged a meeting with a woman he'd met on a site catering to rape fantasies. The plan: For Howard to "break" into the woman's apartment after nightfall then beat and rape her. The problem: Michael Howard entered the wrong apartment, thus attacking the wrong woman--a 25-year-old stranger who "believed she was going to be killed" before managing to incapacitate her intruder by attacking his testicles. Following the impromptu testicle attack, Howard asked his victim for the name she used in the chat room, only to be informed that the woman had never visited a chat room and didn't own a computer. After plea-bargaining down to a charge of residential burglary, Michael Howard faced sentencing of one year in jail. After reporting this story, Last Days needed a drink and a shower.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 25 Speaking of bad news for women: Today we turn our regret ray toward the fairer sex, who got shafted by Last Days at least twice in 2004. The first slight came on April 25, when we reported that "nothing happened today," despite the half-million women who congregated in Washington, D.C., for the March for Women's Lives. The second slight followed on June 26, when we also reported that "nothing happened today," despite the couple hundred women who hit the streets of Capitol Hill for the Seattle Dyke March. As a lifelong admirer of the females, Last Days apologizes for the oversights. As someone who employs the phrase "Nothing happened today" when space is too short to print anything else, we hope no one takes it too seriously.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 26 The week wraps up with the mother of all regrets--the 2004 presidential election, whose results we learned by waking on Nov. 3 to a freshly elected Dubya gloating about the girth of his "political capital." However, we were soon rescued from our cycle of shuddering and puking by the sight of a hilarious hooker standing on the corner across from our 18th Avenue apartment. Obviously maneuvering a transition from one skeezy guy on the street to another skeezy guy in a Cutlass, our lady had dressed for her 10:00 a.m. morning shift like a high schooler playing hooker for Halloween, with heavy makeup, fishnet hose, and vinyl miniskirt, all propped up on stiletto heels. Best of all was the working girl's lunchbox--not just any lunchbox, but a lunchbox devoted to the Bee Gees. And not just any Bee Gee--the one and only dead Bee Gee, Maurice. Last Days will forever regret not having a spare $100 to give the lunchbox-wielding hooker, who kept the flame of hope alive during our nation's darkest hour.

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