Here are some leftover gifts found under a magical tree, if only I had the power to give them....
* For Pakistan. Peace and reconciliation.
* For Dick Cheney: Impeachment.
* For Big Media. Some soul and integrity.
* For lending regulators: Laws against luring buyers into homes they can't afford
* For the NRA, humility in the face of massacres by kids bearing stolen assault rifles.
* For patriots wanting to do more in the “War on Terror,” here's a little package of hardship. Nothing so severe as what our parents and grandparents faced during the Great Depression and War War II, just more challenging than, say, going shopping for America and pasting faux yellow ribbons on your SUV. How about some good, stiff incentives for parking your guzzler in favor of car-pooling, biking, running, walking and mass transit? How about "green" light bulbs and a better insulated house? How about lowering the thermostat two degrees?
* For R&D departments at our nation's industries and colleges. A crash program to design affordable cars that get 50 miles to the gallon. An all out effort to develop hydrogen, geo-thermal, solar and wind power.
* For Oak Ridge and TVA: A phase-out of nuclear technology, so the world might with authority outlaw nukes in Iran, North Korea and our so-called ally, Pakistan.
* For Dubya, a gift that keeps on giving. Six special prosecutors. One each for invading Iraq, illegal wire-taps, lies about global warming, torture, Iran's nuclear capability, and, for good measure, one for all the sins not covered on that list.
* For the Knoxville News-Sentinel and other media who've soft-pedaled the truth about Dubya by silencing his critics, a lump of coal from a strip mine near you.
* For Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: Backbone and foresight. Items to replace the rubber stamps you wield for arms makers, energy companies, the gun lobby and others.
* For Democrats generally, courage to take a good hard look at the weapons trade, once and future allies, health insurance, corporate accounting, energy, the space program, the war on drugs, the plight of veterans and much else. Time is running out to prove you're the visionaries you claim to be or just another gaggle of hacks on the path of least resistance.
* For torturers and excusers of torture. An evening with one Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, who was kidnapped and pressured into telling lies that helped launch us into Iraq, maybe the worst foreign policy fiasco this country ever made.
* For students, the truth about evolution, Christopher Columbus, the Pilgrims, the Indians, the slave trade, the creation of the Taliban, al-Qaida, torture, Bush family history and global warming.
* For the media, the gumption to tell the truth much sooner when it comes to war casualties such as Pat Tillman, Jessica Lynch, and when it comes to the Downing Street memos, the violation of a dozen international treaties and a list of lies too long to go into here.
* For Phil Fulmer and the football Vols: A special-teams coach. Long-suffering fans have surely had enough of busted kickoff coverage, poor punt-fielding and kick-off fielding early each season. Surely the time has come to bring rest to old legendary Vol coach Bob Neyland, who made the kicking game into a high art, and surely has spent the Fulmer era spinning in his grave.
* For TVA and other major air polluters: Humility in the face of miserable air quality, plus the latest in smokestack emissions technology, even if Dubya says you don't hafta install it.
* For veterans and weary soldiers, access to topnotch healthcare, open hearts and minds when it comes to post-traumatic stress and other psychological issues, plus an end to trumped up wars.
* For downtowns across Tennessee: A sudden love among the people for village dwelling.
* For strip-miners and mountaintop removers, a dirty pool of water and a "reclaimed mountain" in your own back yard.
* For the Tennessee Department of Transportation: A legislature willing to transfer money from TDOT to more worthy causes. Land for parks and wildlife, more intact communities, more historic preservation, mass transit projects and fewer roads.
* For music lovers: A revival of a Top Ten with powers to soothe the savage breast. How about a sudden national craving for harmony, melody and insightufl lyrics?
* For Al Gore: A front row seat on the spectacle of munchkins flailing around in your wake.
* For Alberto Gonzalez, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and a growing list of others who've walked the plank on our ship of state: A long retirement, with plenty of time to reflect on past misdeeds.
* For everyone reading this column with an open mind: Many thanks, and a Happy New Year.