By Bethany Reinhart

The semester is almost over, holiday party plans are in full swing and almost overnight the weather has turned frightful. These are all signs that 2009 is drawing to a close and a new year, as well as a new decade, is on the horizon.

Although I am not the biggest fan of the holidays, one of my favorite things about this time of year is the year-end wrap-up lists that fill pages of magazines and take up airtime on primetime television. You know what I’m talking about: “Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People,” Google’s top-searched phrase (which was Michael Jackson, in case you were wondering) or Time Magazine’s annual list issue. These are the lists that I look forward to reading all year long.

In keeping with that theme, this year I’ve decided to create my own list for The Chronicle’s last edition of the decade. The following are the top three political stories that resonate in my mind when I think about 2009 in review.

Blagojevich removed: The year got off to a memorable start on Jan. 29 when our one-and-only former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached in a unanimous Senate vote. Although I was happy to be rid of the allegedly corrupt governor, I had just mastered the spelling of his last name after my copy editing professor put it on every quiz, so I felt a wee bit duped. Luckily, Blagojevich remained in the spotlight, making an utter fool of himself, so I was still able to show off my new spelling skills after all.

John Edwards’ soap opera saga: The John Edwards baby drama finally reached closure in August when a DNA test confirmed his paternity of a former mistress’ daughter.  After vehemently denying he was the father, the former senator and White House hopeful was forced to admit fathering Rielle Hunter’s child once the DNA evidence was on the table. Meanwhile, his devoted wife Elizabeth was promoting her new book about her husband’s affair, in which she wrote that she didn’t know whether her husband was the father of the child.

Edward Kennedy’s death: On a serious note, I shed a tear when word came that the “Lion of the Senate” had finally passed. Although I didn’t always agree with his politics, I had the utmost respect for Teddy Kennedy. His dedication to his convictions and the overwhelming generosity he showed throughout his life, especially in his later years, were traits that we should all aspire to have, no matter what side of the political battle line we are on. The strength that Kennedy exuded throughout his illness and the graceful way in which he spent his final days serve as a true inspiration.

As the decade comes to a close, I can only hope that next year, and the ensuing decade, will be filled with more controversial and noteworthy politicians to write about.