Our annual roundup of the year's strangest news and most dubious accomplishments

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Applying to work for Big Brother

Bozeman City Manager Chris Kukulski and three other department heads were disciplined for requiring potential city employees to divulge their usernames and passwords for personal e-mail and social network accounts, like Twitter and Facebook. The policy had started in the city police department in 2007 and extended to all applicants in summer 2008 before finally being dropped in July.

Couldn't they have at least promoted a better destination?

The Missoula Chamber of Commerce, an organization seemingly responsible for promoting Missoula businesses, promoted a "Fabulous Nosey Parker's Ladies Get-A-Way for savvy shoppers"—in Spokane. The holiday season e-blast promised shoppers a "posh stay at Holiday Inn Express Spokane," "classy limousine service with your personal guide," "festive champagne and chocolates in route" and much more for just $137 per person.

At least he won one national title

After Bobby Hauck, head coach of the University of Montana football team, refused to answer questions from student reporters because of a story he didn't like, national media picked up on the standoff. Sports Illustrated wrote about Hauck's "sorry strategy" at least three times, popular sports blog Deadspin called the coach "a gaping vagina of the highest order" and ESPN columnist Pat Forde named Hauck his "Bum of the Year."

Upon further review

New York Times sportswriter Pete Thamel also jumped into the Hauck brouhaha, tweeting that Hauck "reinvents amateur hour for [college football] coaches. May he never get a real coaching job." Just last week, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas hired Hauck as its new head coach.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride

The University of Montana football team wasn't the only Griz group to place second in a prestigious national competition this year. The cheerleading squad came up short against the University of Hawaii in the Jan. 2 airing of "RAH! Paula Abdul's Cheerleading Bowl" on MTV. UM beat out the University of Arizona, University of Arkansas and Miami University (Ohio) to reach the final.

More than just a "football factory"

A September New York Times article on low graduation rates at public universities specifically mentioned the University of Montana as a "failure factory."

There when you need it most, mostly

The American Automobile Association (AAA) ceased placing motorists stranded at home on its response list last winter after 10 days of mostly subzero temperatures and heavy snowfall overwhelmed the Mountain West region.

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Better than the Bernie Madoff Financial Center

Harold Gilkey, namesake of the University of Montana's new Gilkey Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Executive Education, stepped down from his position as chairman of Spokane's Sterling Savings Bank in October, shortly after the bank received a cease-and-desist order from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The order cited a number of unsafe or unsound banking practices, including a large number of poor-quality loans and inadequate capital.

The Cosby method

Montana State University ecologist Al Zale offered up solutions for dealing with an infestation of invasive lake trout in Yellowstone Lake, including one unconventional idea: smothering the trout eggs with Jell-O. Zale believes unflavored gelatin would be an affordable way to deprive the lake trout eggs of the oxygen they draw out of the water.

The Mulder defense

A Whitefish man facing charges for illegal possession of firearms and a bomb told U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in January that he's the victim of a far-reaching government conspiracy. Specifically, he believed operatives implanted nutrition-stealing canisters in his gastrointestinal tract while detained by Seattle authorities in 1993 and 2000. Canisters or not, Molloy ruled the man was competent to stand trial.

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