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No Thanks for the Memories

AUGUST

. . . Greece hosts a highly successful Olympics, with the United States winning all the gold medals, at least the ones shown on TV. Fears of terrorist attacks prove unjustified, most likely because the terrorists, like everybody else, are watching women's beach volleyball. The only major controversy involves the men's gymnastics gold medal, which is won by American Paul Hamm, despite exit polls showing it should have gone to a South Korean.

On the political front, the Republicans gather for their national convention in New York City, which welcomes them with open armpits. But the hot political story is the allegation by a group of Swift Boat veterans that John Kerry exaggerated his Vietnam accomplishments, and that, in fact, his boat was "not particularly swift." This story produces a media frenzy of charges and countercharges that soon has the entire nation riveted to reruns of "America's Funniest Home Videos."


(Illustration by Richard Thompson)

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In other political news, New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey resigns after confirming persistent rumors that he has nipples.

In weather news, an unprecedented series of hurricanes -- Arnie, Barb, Chuck, Deb, Ernie, Francine, Gus and Harlotta -- all head directly for Florida, causing millions of Sunshine State residents, by long-standing tradition, to throng to home-supply stores in an effort to purchase the two available pieces of plywood. Damage is extensive, although experts say it would have been much worse if not for a dense protective barrier of TV news people standing on the beaches and excitedly informing the viewing audience that the wind is blowing.

In other bad news, the Department of Homeland Fear, acting on credible information, raises the National Terror Index Level to "EEEEEEEE," which is a level so high that only dogs can detect it.

Speaking of alarming, in . . .

SEPTEMBER

. . . Florida's weather woes worsen as the Sunshine State is battered on consecutive days by hurricanes Irving, Jonetta, Karl, Louanne, Myron, Naomi, Orville, Peg, Quentin and Regina. When it is finally all over, many Florida residents are completely hairless, and shards of Walt Disney World are coming down as far away as Montana. The federal government, reacting quickly, sends a third sheet of plywood to Florida and promises that a fourth will be on the way "soon."

In politics, the month begins with the Republican Convention and Mass Arrest still going on in New York City. The GOP delegates, confounding exit pollsters, nominate George W. Bush, who promises that, if reelected, he will "continue doing whatever it says here on the teleprompter."

With more bad news coming from Iraq, and Americans citing terrorism and health care as their major concerns, the news media continue their laser-beam focus on the early 1970s. Dan Rather leads the charge with a report on CBS's "60 Minutes," citing a memo, allegedly written in 1972, suggesting that Bush shirked his National Guard duty. Critics charge that the memo is a fake, pointing out that at one point it specifically mentions the 2003 Outkast hit "Hey Ya." Rather refuses to back down, arguing that the reference could be to "an early version of the song."

Just when the public is about to abandon hope in the presidential election, the candidates get together for an actual debate at the University of Miami Convocation Center, which is the only building left standing in Florida. In summary:

Bush states that being president is really, really hard for him, anyway. Kerry states that he is really, really smart and has, like, 185 specific plans. It is agreed there will be two more debates, although nobody can explain why.

In aviation news, US Airways files for bankruptcy for a second time, only to have a federal judge rule that the airline can't possibly get any more bankrupt than it already is. Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration, acting on credible information, announces that it will be requiring additional airport screening for commercial airline passengers who are "wearing clothes."

On the legal front, a judge drops rape charges against Kobe Bryant on the grounds that "the Scott Peterson trial is hogging all the cable TV celebrity legal analysts."

In medical news, the popular anti-arthritis drug Vioxx is pulled from the market after clinical trials show that it may contain carbohydrates. On a more positive note, former president Bill Clinton experiences chest pains and is rushed to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where, in a five-hour operation, surgeons successfully remove a glazed doughnut the size of a catcher's mitt.

Speaking of the national pastime, in . . .

OCTOBER

. . . the Boston Red Sox, ending an 86-year drought, defeat the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series, defying exit polls that had overwhelmingly picked the Green Bay Packers. The Red Sox get into the Series thanks to the fact that the New York Yankees -- who were leading the American League championships three games to none and have all-stars at every position, not to mention a payroll larger than the gross national product of Sweden -- choose that particular time to execute the most spectacular choke in all of sports history, an unbelievable Gag-o-Rama, a noxious nosedive, a pathetic gut-check failure of such epic dimensions that every thinking human outside of the New York metropolitan area experiences a near-orgasmic level of happiness. But there is no need to rub it in.

In entertainment news, Howard Stern signs a $500 million deal to move his show to satellite radio, where a man can still display a nipple.

On the health front, the big story is a nationwide shortage of flu vaccine, caused by the fact that apparently all the flu vaccine in the world is manufactured by some guy with a Bunsen burner in Wales or someplace. Congress, acting with unusual swiftness, calls on young, healthy Americans to forgo getting flu shots this year so that more vaccine will be available for members of Congress. President Bush notes that additional vaccine "could be hidden somewhere in Iraq."

John Kerry, campaigning in North Carolina, kills a raccoon with a hatchet.

In aviation news, SpaceShipOne, the first privately funded manned rocket, breaks free from its mother plane, soars 62 miles above the earth, swoops gracefully back to Earth, rolls to a stop on the Mojave Desert and files for bankruptcy.


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