In domestic news, Arizona passes a controversial new law designed to crack down on illegal immigrants; this draws a sharp rebuke from the Mexican government, currently headquartered in Tucson.
President Obama outlines his bold vision for the U.S. space program, calling for a manned mission to establish comprehensive health-care reform on Mars by 2030. The president also signs a historic arms-reduction treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev under which both countries will destroy one-third of their older nuclear missiles by upgrading them to Windows Vista. In a related development, Iran purchases $78 million worth of used nuclear-missile parts on Craigslist.
Speaking of growing menaces, in...
...the pesky Deepwater Horizon oil spill dominates the news as BP tries a series of increasingly desperate measures to plug the leak, including, at one point, a 167,000-pound wad of pre-chewed Juicy Fruit. President Obama, eager to show that he is on top of the situation, develops severe forehead cramps from standing on the shore and frowning with concern at the water. Meanwhile, Congress holds televised hearings that establish, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Congress is very upset about, and totally opposed to, large oil spills. Despite these heroic efforts, the leak continues to grow, and by the end of the month is threatening suburban Des Moines.
On the terror front, New York City police, alerted by Times Square street vendors, discover a smoking SUV packed with explosives a violation of many city ordinances, including the ban on smoking. Fortunately, the car bomb is disarmed, and a suspect is later captured at Kennedy Airport by sharp-eyed TSA officers trained to spot suspicious behavior.
Ha ha! Just kidding, of course. The suspect is captured by U.S. Customs agents at the last minute after boarding a Dubai-bound plane filled with passengers who, like the suspect, had all been carefully screened by the TSA to make sure they were not carrying more than three ounces of shampoo.
In other air-travel news, the boards of directors of United and Continental approve a merger that will create one of the worlds largest airlines, with a combined total of 700 planes, 88,000 employees, and nearly two dozen packets of peanuts.
But the big financial news is the May 6 stock market Flash Crash. The Dow at one point is down nearly 1,000 points, including a drop of 600 points in five minutes, resulting in what financial analysts say is the largest mass purchase of emergency replacement underwear in Wall Street history. The SEC investigates the crash and later issues a 350-page report concluding: You know that eTrade baby? In the commercials? With the grown mans voice? That baby is REAL.
Abroad, thousands of people riot in the streets of Athens to protest a report by the International Monetary Fund concluding that Greece should think about maybe getting a part-time job.
In sports, yet another major-league pitcher pitches yet another perfect game, and the baseball world wets its collective pants, because there is nothing more exciting to a true baseball fan than a game in which one of the teams cant even manage to get on base.
The excitement mounts in...
...as the Deepwater Horizon oil leak continues to gush, with each day bringing alarming new media reports claiming that it is an even worse environmental disaster than had been reported the previous day. The furor culminates in a New York Times story stating that eventually all the oil in the world will leak out through the hole in the Gulf floor and cover the entire planet with a layer of oil 27 feet deep, which, according to The Times, would be potentially devastating for polar bears. BP attempts to stop the leak using a high-tech robot submarine, only to see the effort fail when the sub is seized by Somali pirates. In Washington, the CEO of BP appears before an angry House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which votes unanimously, after 7 1/2 half hours of testimony, to give him a noogie. Still, somehow, the oil keeps leaking.
Rolling Stone magazine publishes a controversial article in which Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is quoted as saying that the Beatles version of Twist and Shout is better than the Isley Brothers. President Obama has no choice but to relieve the general of his command.
Abroad, U.S. intelligence intercepts a top-secret cable from Iran to North Korea, apparently written in code, stating: Thanks for selling us the buclear beapons. In response, the U.S. threatens to impose harsh new sanctions that, in the words of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will make the previous harsh sanctions that we threatened to impose seem like only moderate threatened sanctions, and this time we are not kidding around.
On the world economic front, thousands of rock-throwing rioters take to the streets of both Athens and Rome to protest punishing new austerity measures under which they would no longer be provided by the government with free rocks.
In consumer news, Apple finally releases the long-awaited iPhone 4, which incorporates many subtle improvements, the cumulative result of which is that it can neither make nor receive telephone calls. It is, of course, a huge hit.
In sports, the World Cup gets under way in South Africa; despite fears of violence, the massive event is totally peaceful, except for the estimated 13,000 people who leap to their deaths from the tops of stadiums to escape the sound of the vuvuzelas. The early tournament highlight (which we are not making up) is provided by the French team, which, after getting off to a bad start, goes on strike.
Speaking of bad, in...
...the Deepwater Horizon oil spill officially becomes, according to the news media, the worst thing that has ever happened, with environmental experts reporting that tar balls have been sighted on the surface of the moon. Just when all appears to be lost, BP announces that it has stopped the leak, using a 75-ton cap and what a company spokesperson describes as a truly heroic manatee named Wendell. Although oil is no longer leaking, much damage has been done, so this important story remains the focus of the nations attention for nearly 45 minutes, after which the nations attention shifts to Lindsay Lohan.
In other national news, Congress passes and President Obama signs into law a financial-reform act designed to curb Wall Street excesses by mandating the death penalty for anybody caught wearing a watch costing more than a house. Having guaranteed that the financial community will behave in a responsible manner, Washington returns to the important work of running up the deficit. On the foreign economic front, anger builds over plans by the governments of both Greece and France to raise the retirement age, which means workers would have to continue striking for several years longer before they could start collecting pensions. In protest, everybody in both nations goes on strike.
In the World Cup final, Spain defeats Holland, only to have the trophy snatched away by the North Korean team, which, despite a U.S. threat of really, really harsh sanctions, turns it over to the Iranian team, which was not even in the tournament. Eerily, all of this was predicted by a psychic octopus named Paul, who is immediately hired by Goldman Sachs.
But the big sports story is the decision by LeBron James, announced in a one-hour television special watched by a worldwide audience estimated at 127 billion, to take his talents to South Beach and play for the Miami Heat, where he will join Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Michael Jordan, the late Wilt Chamberlain and Jesus to form a dream basketball team so supremely excellent that it cannot possibly lose, not even one single game, EVER, in theory. Miami erupts in a joyous weeks-long victory celebration. During the excitement Fidel Castro dies, an event that goes unreported in The Miami Herald, which has devoted all its staff resources to a nine-part series speculating on whom LeBron will select as his dentist.
The month ends on a troubling note as the United Nations Security Council votes unanimously to send a peacekeeping force to quell Mel Gibson.
Speaking of troubling, in...
...concern over the direction of the U.S. economy deepens when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in what some economists see as a sign of pessimism, applies for Canadian citizenship.
In other economic news, the first family, seeking to boost Gulf tourism, vacations in Panama City, where President Obama, demonstrating that the water is perfectly safe despite the oil spill, plunges in for a swim. Quick action by the Secret Service rescues him from the jaws of a mutant 500-pound shrimp sprouting what appear to be primitive wings. The first family hastily departs for Marthas Vineyard to demonstrate that the water is also perfectly safe there.
Speaking of getaways: JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater becomes a national sensation when he curses out a passenger, deploys the evacuation chute, grabs two beers and slides out of the plane. He is immediately hired as director of customer relations by the TSA.
In the months most dramatic story, 33 copper miners in Chile are trapped 2,300 feet underground following a cave-in caused by a runaway Toyota Camry. The good news is that the men are still alive; the bad news is that the only drilling equipment capable of reaching them quickly belongs to BP. Informed of this, the men elect to stay down there for the time being.
In legal news, Elena Kagan is sworn in as the newest Supreme Court justice, having established, in three days of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, that she went to either Harvard or Yale. Elsewhere, a federal jury deadlocks on 22 of 24 charges against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, convicting him only of, quote, being some kind of enormous rodent. Outside the courtroom, Blagojevich tearfully thanks his supporters, then robs a convenience store.
In New York City, the big issue is a proposal to build, two blocks from Ground Zero, a Muslim community center that proponents claim will promote dialogue. Even in the purely conceptual phase it promotes a huge amount of dialogue, to the point where National Guard troops may need to be called in.
Another heartwarming interfaith story erupts in...
...when Terry Jones, pastor of a tiny church in Florida, declares that he will proceed with plans to burn a Koran on 9/11. The media, recognizing that this is not really news, ignore him, and the matter is quickly forgotten.
But seriously: Jones becomes a major international story, comparable in magnitude to all of the Kardashians combined. President Obama speaks out against Jones plan, as do members of Congress, the military and virtually every American religious leader; abroad, there are fatal riots. Finally, after a great deal of soul-searching TV exposure, Jones decides not to burn the Koran, explaining, I finally figured out that Im just an attention-seeking jerkwater idiot. The news media vow never again to encourage this kind of mindless hysteria. Abroad, the rioters agree to stop taking everything so darned seriously.
Getting back to reality: The 2010 election season enters its final days with polls showing that Congress enjoys the same overall level of voter popularity as hemorrhoids. Incumbents swarm out of Washington and head for their home districts to campaign on the theme of how much they hate Washington, in the desperate hope that the voters will return them to Washington. President Obama, basking in the glow of the health-care reform act, offers to campaign for Democratic candidates, only to find that many of them have important dental appointments and are unable to join him on whatever day he is planning to visit. Adding zest to the Republican stew is the presence of many Tea Party candidates, including Delaware Senate hopeful Christine ODonnell, who at one point in her campaign releases a TV commercial that begins with her stating, in a calm and reassuring tone, that she is not a witch.
Meanwhile in Chile, an attempt to deliver food to the 33 trapped copper miners ends in a tragic accident involving what mining officials describe as an incredibly courageous Dominos driver.
Speaking of tragic, in...
...the U.S. economy suffers another blow as the Federal Bureau of Never Expecting Unemployment To Be As High As It Actually Is reports that, for the 37th consecutive month, unemployment is unexpectedly high. Darned if we didnt get fooled again! exclaims a bureau spokesperson, adding, We expect it to be lower next month. Meanwhile Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, speaking from his new office in Toronto, announces a plan to drastically increase the U.S. money supply by quantitative easing, a controversial process involving what Bernanke describes as a major job for Kinkos.
The economy remains the big theme as the congressional elections enter the home stretch, with incumbents from both parties declaring their eagerness to go back to Washington and knock some sense into whatever incompetent morons are in charge. Polls show that the voters are in a very cranky mood, which tends to favor outsiders such as the Tea Party candidates, although ODonnell definitely hurts her chances in Delaware when, during a televised debate, she turns her opponent into a toad.
President Obama, continuing his quest to find candidates willing to accept his help, winds up campaigning in what White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs describes as some very key student-council races. Meanwhile Sarah Palin, raising her stature as a potential 2012 GOP presidential contender, weighs in on the issues with a number of important tweets.
On the legal front, the Supreme Court, as it does every October, begins a new term, which is hastily adjourned when the justices discover that their robes have bedbugs.
In the months most dramatic story, the 33 trapped Chilean miners are all brought safely to the surface, only to be sent right back down because they failed to bring up any copper which, as the mining company points out, was the whole point of sending them down there in the first place. Meanwhile in France, millions of workers again take to the streets to demonstrate, in no uncertain terms, that they are French.
Elsewhere abroad, terrorists in Yemen attempt to send mail bombs to the United States, confirming the long-held suspicions of U.S. intelligence that there really is a country named Yemen. The plot, which involves explosives concealed inside printer cartridges, is foiled, but as a precaution the TSA decides to prohibit air travelers in the Unites States from carrying anything capable of printing, including pens, pencils, and children in grades 2 through 5.
In sports, the National Football League, seeking to reduce violence, imposes stiff fines for defensive beheading.
Speaking of gory, in...
...the elections turn out to be a bloodbath for the Democrats, who lose the House of Representatives, a bunch of Senate seats, some governorships, some state legislatures and all of the key student-council races. Also a number of long-term Democratic incumbents are urinated on by their own dogs. President Obama immediately departs for a nine-day trip to Asia to see if anybody over there wants to hear about the benefits of health-care reform.
Speaking of health: Some air travelers express concern about radiation from the TSAs new high-resolution scanners, especially after screeners at OHare are seen using one to make popcorn. TSA chief John Pistole insists that the scanners are completely safe as long as you move through quickly. He also assures passengers that their body images are not saved for any purpose whatsoever, such as entertainment at the TSA Christmas party. Nevertheless some passengers refuse to be scanned; they are required to undergo a manual procedure that is known, within the agency, as the full gerbil.
World tension mounts as North Korea, in what is widely seen as a deliberate act of provocation, fires artillery shells at Denver. Meanwhile, in another indication of the worsening global debt crisis, the directors of the International Monetary Fund vote to have Irelands legs broken.
The U.S. economy also continues to struggle, as the unemployment rate, catching everybody by surprise, turns out to be higher than expected for yet another month. The lone bright spot is provided by the presidents deficit-reduction commission, which, after months of work, releases a draft of a tough plan that, if Congress can muster the backbone to enact it, would reduce the deficit by trillions of dollars and put the nation on the path back to fiscal sanity. This is a welcome bit of comic relief in the stressed-out capital; everybody enjoys a hearty bipartisan laugh, then gets back to maneuvering for the 2012 elections.
In other entertainment news, Bristol Palins bid to win Dancing With the Stars falls short when the judges throw out 147 million votes from Palm Beach County. She winds up finishing third, behind actress Jennifer Grey and Vice President Biden.
In sports, President Obamas upper lip is injured in a basketball game when he is hit in the mouth by an elbow believed to have been thrown by North Korea.
International tension continues to mount in...
...with the continued release by Wikileaks of classified cables leaked from the State Department, which apparently has the same level of data security as an Etch-a-Sketch. The cables reveal a number of embarrassing diplomatic secrets, such as:
The last three rounds of Middle East peace talks have consisted entirely of delegates playing Twister.
• The Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan frequently, as a prank, exchange places in the United Nations, and nobody has ever noticed.
• High-ranking officials of Scotland, speaking in private, admit that they dont understand what the hell theyre saying either.
• In 2007, Hungary paid $170 million to Russia for pictures of Sweden naked.
In domestic politics, a partisan debate rages over what to do about the expiring Bush tax cuts. The Democrats, suddenly alarmed about the deficit, want to raise taxes on people making $250,000 a year or, as the Democrats routinely refer to them, billionaires. The Republicans want to extend tax cuts for everybody, but compensate by cutting federal spending at a later date using an amazing new spending-cutting device they have seen advertised on TV.
Finally, President Obama and the Republican leaders reach a compromise under which income-tax rates will stay the same for everybody, but the death tax will be expanded to include people who are merely hung over. Also, in a concession to the Iowa congressional delegation, the federal government will continue to fund a green energy program under which corn is converted into ethanol, which is then converted back into corn, which is then planted to grow more corn. This will cost $5 billion a year, but it is expected to create or save literally dozens of Iowa jobs.
President Obama, trying to sell the compromise, appears ambivalent, saying that it is less than ideal, but also pointing out that it totally sucks, adding, I hate it. Despite this smooth sales pitch, many Democrats are unhappy. There is even talk of a primary challenge to Obama in 2012, a notion dismissed as nonsense by Hillary Clinton, who speaks to reporters while traveling on what aides describe as routine State Department business in New Hampshire.
In another potential setback for the president, a federal judge in Virginia rules that the health-care reform act violates the constitutions tonnage clause. On the environmental front, delegates from 193 countries at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico, pass a resolution stating that they should not have had those last four rounds of margaritas.
Time Magazine, in a controversial decision, names, as its Person of the Year, Iranian space pioneer Helmz 1. In television news, Fidel Castro makes a surprise guest appearance on The Walking Dead.
Speaking of entertainment: As the year finally draws to a close, all eyes are on Seaside Heights, N. J., where MTV plans to ring in the new year by dropping a ball containing Nicole Snooki Polizzi, one of the leading bimbos of Jersey Shore. Millions eagerly tune in, only to find that the ball has been attached to something that makes it drop slowly. A bitterly disappointing end to a bitterly disappointing year.
But at least its over, right? And we can take comfort in the fact that 2011 cannot possibly be worse. Unless, of course, this newly discovered asteroid maybe you read about it continues on a trajectory that...
Try not to think about it. Have another margarita. Happy New Year.