AUSTIN, Texas -- Traditionally, when one bids adieu to the year just past, a tone of cynical good-riddance to 12 sorry months is da rigor, as they say in Lubbock.

Well, forget tradition. I say 2000 was a glorious political year from start to finish and can think of few years more packed with delight than the one we have just skinned through. Here's to Y2K, arguably the beginning of the new millennium and inarguably a mighty fine start on something, whatever it was.

Here's to the National Egg On Your Face, How Wrong Can You Be, How Many Times Can You Be That Wrong, Let's Go On Television and Make Fools of Ourselves Year-Long Pundit Pratfall!

From Who's-John-McCain to who won Florida, the most striking feature of the political year was the evitability of George W. Bush.

All the king's horses, all the king's men and all the Republican money in the country could barely drag the poor guy across the finish line. Special thanks to Jeff Greenfield of CNN for having the common sense to observe at several points, "None of us has any idea what's going to happen now."

Easiest Way to Be Right All Year: Denounce the conventional wisdom, whatever it happened to be for the moment, and head in the opposite direction -- an infallible guide to rectitude.

Best Candidate of the Year: The late Mel Carnahan of Missouri, and may I say I think he'd make a better attorney general than John Ashcroft, too. He Won Anyway: The new sheriff of McLennan County is named Lynch (First name Larry).

Impossible Subliminable Choice: Best Bushism of the Year -- let us pass over such publicized favorites as "Is our children learning?" and "Tear down the terriers and bariffs." I prefer the less-cited but more surreal charm of such thoughts as, "Will the highways on the Internet become more few?" and "Families is where wings take dream."

Best Political Actor of the Year: Former Secretary of State Jim Baker, the Bush family consigliere who was furious at the presumption of the Gore people for wanting to count votes! Perfect in the role of Man Faced With Outrageous Demand.

Saddest Comedown of the Year: U.S. Supreme Court.

Most Hilarious Putsch Attempt: The Florida Legislature for conducting an illegal, unconstitutional and patently anti-democratic exercise, while simultaneously being hilariously funny in the immemorial fashion of really bad legislatures.

Worst Idea of the Year: George W. Bush's contention that the U.S. Congress should become more like the Texas Legislature. Quick: stake, cross, garlic, pesticide. Biggest Lie by Gore Camp: At 2:15 a.m. EST on election night, "Gore's top advisers say it's all going according to plan."

Most Overcovered Race: for New York Senate, Hillary Clinton vs. Rick Lazio. It lost all its charm after Rudy G. dropped out -- boring, cautious campaigns by both candidates, much more fun to be found elsewhere, though you could have fooled the media.

Man Having a Wonderful Time in the Most Improbable Circumstances: The Unsinkable Bill Clinton. No matter how you feel about him, you can always think of 2000 as Clinton's Last Year.

Great Loss: The death of Lars-Erik Nelson, political writer whose essence is found in a quote offered by Pete Hamill in The New York Review of Books: Nelson to Hamill: "The enemy isn't conservatism. The enemy isn't liberalism. The enemy is bull----."

First Annual Lars-Erik Nelson Award: Sen. John McCain of Arizona -- thanks for telling the truth.

Tom Loeffler Memorial Award (in honor of Loeffler's immortal campaign motto "Texas will always be Texas"): Ron Paul of Surfside, Texas, the only member of Congress to vote against presenting the Medal of Honor to the late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz.

Special honors to the citizens of the United States for surviving the Elian Gonzalez debacle, the campaign and the post-election campaign all in one year. Every now and then we have to read stories from abroad that claim in alarm, "Foreigners are laughing at us!" Hey, foreigners, you think this is funny?

The Smooch, the sighs, New Hampshire, traction, Bob Jones University, "He can't take the high horse and then claim the low road," goodbye Bill Bradley, Michigan, Roman Catholics, the lockbox, Grecians, earth tones. It just kept getting better and better.

First we had to have a tax cut because we had this huge surplus; now we have to have a tax cut because the economy is tanking -- "A tax cut is really one of the anecdotes to coming out of an economic illness."

While we were trying to figure out if Gore has a bellybutton, Bush was informing us that Gore's tax cut would require "numerous IRA agents," and, "They want the federal government controlling Social Security, like it's some kind of federal program."

And as though all that were not enough, as though we had not had as much political fun as a nation can stand, then we got the 36-Day War, featuring Katherine Harris' eye shadow, lawyer Joseph Klock's inability to identify members of the Supreme Court and a Republican riot at the Miami courthouse.

My favorite moment came after it was all over and I found a piece in The New York Times by Sen. Bob Graham about the difficulties that Latin American legislatures have in grasping democracy. Graham represents Florida.

Molly Ivins is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. To find out more about Molly Ivins and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at COPYRIGHT 2000 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.