How do we explain a year like 2004?

George W. Bush had more people vote against him, some 57 million, than any previous candidate for president ever—and won. The Astros, just a win away from their first World Series, handed the ball to one of the greatest pitchers ever—and Roger Clemens lost. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you finish fourth, which was Texas’s ranking in a survey of the meanest places for the homeless. Was that behind Fallujah, Baghdad, and Mosul?

It was a great year for weird research. Does the world need a mild habanero pepper? An Aggie researcher in Weslaco evidently thought so. He developed one, only to be deluged with calls from Mexico asking, “¿Está loco?” Another Aggie scientist is trying to develop a tortilla that will stay fresh for four years. Sí, muy loco. And in case you were wondering where to find the most tornado-prone spot in Texas, VorTek LLC, of Huntsville, Alabama, calculated it as latitude 35 degrees, 21 minutes north, longitude . . . oh, forget it. Suffice it to say it’s right where a tornado ought to be: next to Oklahoma.

What will really blow you away are our contenders for Bum Steer of the Year—ten of them, to be exact. Our winner is a blond ditz with a reality show, but—surprise!—it’s not Anna Nicole Smith.