As the euphoria of last week’s victory parties faded, the city settled in to ride out its unholy economic hangover. Future tenant Barack Obama visited the White House to ask for President Bush’s help in saving the damned U.S. auto industry; the bubbly 43 seemed more enthusiastic on his Big Apple visit to rechristen the U.S.S. Intrepid. Manhattan’s media elite made pilgrimages to Sarah Palin’s Alaska door, where she spoke of sisterly solidarity with Hillary Clinton and divinely directed plans for 2012. Governor Paterson asked for $5.2 billion in cuts to the godforsaken state budget, including funds for health care and public education. The state Republicans prayed, thus far in vain, for Rudy Giuliani to lead them out of the wilderness in 2010.
Wall Street’s lack of faith in Hank Paulson’s bank bailout spurred more steep drops in the Dow, while the government pumped another $40 billion into AIG. The MTA’s deepening fiscal woes — its deficit rose to $1.2 billion — made $3 fares a serious possibility. Bronx State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. said he wouldn’t caucus with fellow Democrats unless they promised not to bring gay marriage up for a vote, while thousands rallied outside the Mormon temple on the Upper West Side to protest the church’s fund-raising in favor of California’s Proposition 8. (Connecticut, meanwhile, began issuing same-sex wedding licenses.)
Ex–Lehman Brothers chief Dick Fuld consigned his de Kooning–heavy art collection to Christie’s; a Sotheby’s show of contemporary-painting superstars was a near-total bust. Keith Olbermann signed on for four more years at MSNBC, at $7.5 million per. Confused commuters scratched their heads over prank copies of the Times bearing the headline “Iraq War Ends.” Top Chef: New York, hosted by local gal Padma Lakshmi, 86’d two contestants while viewers were still being seated. And skinny, stylish cheapskates celebrated Christmas early, thronging the new Comme des Garçons collection at H&M.