JULY: President Bush undergoes a colonoscopy; congressional Democrats immediately pass a resolution condemning the procedure, while maintaining that they “fully support the colonoscope.” Vice President Cheney serves as acting president for two and a half hours, during which he performs what his office describes as “routine executive duties,” including “signing some routine papers” and “ordering some routine bomb strikes against Iran.” France immediately surrenders.
In other executive action, President Bush, on the eve of July Fourth, commutes ””Scooter”” Libby”s prison sentence, on the grounds that, quote, ””Hey, c”mon, it”s Scooter.”” Congressional Democrats are outraged, but the public is more concerned with the issue of whether to go ahead and have that fifth beer.
AUGUST: Mattel, responding to new reports of hazardous materials in Chinese-made products, recalls millions of toys. A Mattel spokesperson insists that “there is no cause for alarm,” but suggests that consumers who have come into contact with the Barbie Magic Kitty Dream Castle should “seek medical help” and “try not to breathe on anyone.”
In politics, the leading Democratic and Republican contenders for president, having failed to draw much of an audience for their previous debates, experiment with new formats. The Republicans hold a “Charades Debate,” during which Mike Huckabee injures his shoulder attempting to mime his plan for tax reform; the Democrats fare little better in their ””West Side Story Rumble Debate,”” which ends early when a switchblade-wielding John Edwards ””accidentally”” stabs Hillary Clinton.
On the weather front, the nation is gripped by a heat wave. This has happened pretty much every August since the dawn of human civilization, but it totally stuns the news media.
In show business, Merv Griffin, entrepreneur, entertainer and host, passes away at age 82 and appears for two riveting hours on Larry King Live.
SEPTEMBER: Iranian President Mahmoud ””Scooter”” Ahmadinejad, speaking at Columbia University, defends his denial of the Holocaust and claims there are no gays in Iran. He and his entourage then head to Greenwich Village to shop for chaps.
In Washington, President Bush nominates Michael B. Mukasey to be attorney general, despite published reports that his name can be rearranged to spell ””Lube Mama”s Hickey”” and ””Mace His Leaky Bum.”” Senate leaders, in a rare display of bipartisanship, pledge to fund large unnecessary projects in both West Virginia and Alaska.
In Las Vegas, O.J. Simpson, an ordinary citizen minding his own business and exercising his basic constitutional right to retrieve sports memorabilia from somebody else”s hotel room with the aid of armed thugs, somehow runs afoul of the law. He insists he is innocent, but winds up facing trial on robbery and kidnapping charges that could send him to jail for a life term, after which he will undoubtedly be signed by the Miami Dolphins.
OCTOBER: uncontrolled fires sweep across large areas of California. President Bush, looking down from his helicopter, pronounces the scene ””devastating,”” only to be informed that the helicopter is flying over Camp David. Aides later explain that the president meant ””devastating in a good way.”” Congress, after intense debate, narrowly passes a non-binding resolution supporting the firefighters.
In politics, the race for the Democratic nomination heats up during a nationally televised debate when John Edwards and Barack Obama, in what political observers view as a thinly veiled attack on Hillary Clinton, repeatedly raise the issue of ankle size. On the Republican side, Sam Brownback announces that he is dropping out of the race; political observers view this as an indication that he thought he was in the race.
Al Gore is named co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to raise awareness of climate change. In an emotional statement, Gore says he is “deeply humbled,” stressing that he could not have won the honor without “an extremely high IQ.”
On the economic front, the Federal Reserve Board cuts interest rates in an effort to counteract economic stagnation caused by the fact that Americans are now spending $743 billion a year – nearly half their disposable income – on Hannah Montana tickets.
NOVEMBER: the Federal Reserve Board, responding to recession fears and the continued weakening of the dollar, votes unanimously to be paid in euros. And in what economists see as an indication of the worsening subprime-mortgage crisis, Russia forecloses on Alaska.
On the labor front, the Writers Guild – representing film, television and radio writers – goes on strike. In solidarity with them, I will not put a punchline here.
The big international story is the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Md., which is opened by President Bush, who declares that he is ””pleased to grant a pardon to this turkey”” before being hustled from the room for what aides describe as ””a very important meeting.”” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice takes over, declaring that the goals of the conference are to ””achieve lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians”” and ””find a real unicorn.”” The rest of the conference goes smoothly until what participants describe as a ””frank exchange of views”” concerning the conference-room thermostat setting ends in gunfire.
Abroad, French transit workers attempt to end a strike, only to discover that they have forgotten how to operate the trains. Everybody enjoys a hearty laugh and returns to the café.
As the month draws to a close, comes the end of what has turned out to be another milder-than-usual hurricane season. Hurricane experts, plugging this updated data into their sophisticated computer models, announce that there is ””a high statistical probability that next month will be April.””
DECEMBER: the race for the presidency becomes even more riveting than it already was, if such a thing is possible. On the Republican side, former senator or governor of some state Mike (or possibly Bob) Huckabee, who surges ahead in the polls because (a) nobody knows anything about him, and (b) it”s fun to say ””Huckabee.”” Huckabee Huckabee Huckabee.
In Washington, President Bush proposes to ease the subprime-mortgage crisis via a two-pronged program consisting of interest-rate freezes and waterboarding. Outraged congressional Democrats promise to pass a nonbinding resolution containing language so strong that nobody will be able to look directly at it without sunglasses.
Abroad, U.S. intelligence experts release a report stating that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. This appears to throw a monkey wrench into the Bush administration”s Mideast policy, although the president, after aides brief him on a synopsis of the executive summary of the introduction to the report, points out that “it could be referring to a different Iran.”
In a major Latin American story, Venezuelan voters reject sweeping constitutional changes pushed by President Hugo Chávez, including a law that would make it illegal for anybody to be taller than he is. A defiant Chávez concedes defeat, but notes that he is still polling ahead of both Joe Biden and John McCain in Iowa.
But the picture is not so rosy for those of us stuck here on Earth. We have to face the fact that 2008, being a leap year, will have a whole extra day of alarming events. So as bad as this year was, we should not be in such a hurry to move on. Instead, we should pause for a moment to raise a glass and offer a toast to our friends and loved ones, wishing them health and happiness.
And then we should put the glass down, because it was probably made in China.
The Miami Herald (abridged)