We celebrate the year's most remarkable inventions--and introduce a few of our own in our coverage of the 2008 election

It's part of the storyteller's art to reveal a single defining moment in a character's life, the inflection point at which the reader gains some insight into what makes the person tick. Huck escapes from his father and sets off down the river. Lear banishes Cordelia. Bogart reaches into his jacket pocket and gives Bergman the papers.

In the literature of politics, handlers and imagemakers try to define their candidates in simple primary colors: bold or strong or decisive. Candidates are selling themselves, and they want to create an image that will make us not only like them but also want...

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