Going through our stacks of cartoons and trying to sort them by season, an odd fact jumped out: The barbs and sharp elbows tossed about in January and February were still present even as we opened the last envelopes of the year from the syndicates. The bristling Rummy has been a soft target for cartoonists all year along, showing nonstop Washington hubris and hypocrisy amid the hotly hurled insults of the election season.

Arrogance, incompetence and civic planning that defied common sense were once again the inspiration for local ink, giving our own V.C. Rogers fodder like Raleigh’s schizophrenia about downtown and Durham’s clumsy courtship of Clear Channel and near-nonstop leadership imbroglios.

The tea leaves on next year, we are sorry to report, do not portend a shift. Neither competence nor contrition, it appears, is on the march here or in Washington. While there’s no solace in that for the rest of us, for the lampoonists these are grand, fertile times.