THIS column usually dishes out the plaudits at Thanksgiving every year. This time, however, I'd like to plant my tongue firmly in my cheek.

Thanksgiving really is my favorite American holiday. No gifts, no religions excluded, everyone just taking one day out of 365 to remember how much we have to be grateful for.

If I had my way I'd export Thanksgiving all over the world, because it gives everyone that critical moment to pause and think about the important aspects of life, not just the frills and dross that make up so much of it on an everyday basis.

There will always be people we should be thankful for because of all the wrong reasons. They point up the absurdity of life rather than the beauty of it.

In their own way, however unintentional, they make us better people. Here are some of them, along with my heartfelt thanks.

Thanks to Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton for ending up in jail and letting young girls everywhere know that following these fallen stars leads to disaster, not enlightenment.

Thanks to Donald Trump for naming his latest warmed over memoir How to Kick Ass or something like that, just to show how obnoxious a character he really is. If this guy is a role model so is O.J. Simpson.

Thanks too to Barry Bonds for finally blowing it when indicted for perjury and showing kids everywhere that cheaters don't always win.

Thanks also to Charlie Weis, football coach at Notre Dame, for showing us just how quickly last year's genius becomes this year's goat. His team is just 2-9 this year, Who wudda thunk it?

Thanks too to all those merchant bankers, princes of the city and sub prime lenders who got boiled in their own stew when the sub prime mortgage market collapsed. They provided an invaluable lesson that greed doesn't always win out.

Thanks to Senator Larry Craig of Idaho for giving us the best laugh of the year by pretending he was only reaching for some paper instead of trying to pick up the police officer next door in a Minnesota bathroom. It was a wonderful lesson in the wages of hypocrisy.

Also thanks to Senator David Vitter from Louisiana, who was caught with hookers while pushing family values. He's running a close second in the hypocrisy award.

Also thanks to Congressman William Jefferson, also of Louisiana, who claimed he had an "honorable explanation" for how $90,000 ended up in his fridge for showing once again that politicians will say anything, swear anything and do anything to avoid the truth.

Thanks also to Tom Tancredo, the immigrant-hating representative from Colorado running for president. His new ad shows a nuclear bomb set off by an illegal Mexican dishwasher or something. Maybe someone will finally see the absurdity in mixing up dishwashers, busboys and nannies with terrorists.

Thanks to Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York for coming up with a great idea with regard to issuing driver's licenses to immigrants, but blowing it with poor execution. Wouldn't you rather know that driver beside you has access to insurance and a license?

Finally, alas to President George W. Bush, special thanks for being the lowest rated president since President Richard Nixon was impeached. The lesson here is that you have to reach out to all Americans, not just a narrow base, be it left or right, and you can't run the country from the extremes and succeed. Here's hoping our next president understands that.

Happy Thanksgiving!