"$this->getRequest()->getControllerName()" , so you want a name of controller. just inject that into your view/layout from action method.
"Then I'd have to remember to initialize it in every controller", your controller should have a common parent. so you can inject that name from parent contructor method.
this is a common practise for zendframe programming. we have a common parent class for all controllers.
make a parent class:
myAppController extends Zend_Controller_Action
then when need an error controller, we do like this:
ErrorController extends myAppController
"Whats wrong with bootstrapping this", in bootstraping code, how do you know which page is going to be viewed by a vistor / how do you know which controller is used?
for example: In errorController, your need a name of error controller, in newsController, you your need a name of news controller.