Between Iraq and a Hard Place

By Dave Barry
Sunday, December 28, 2003

It was the Year of the Troubling Question.

The most troubling one was: What the heck happened to all those weapons of mass destruction that were supposed to be in Iraq? Apparently there was an intelligence mix-up. As CIA Director George Tenet noted recently, "Our thinking now is that the weapons of mass destruction might actually be in that other one, whaddyacallit, Iran. Or Michigan. We're pretty sure the letter 'i' is involved."

Some other troubling questions from 2003 were:

* If Californians hated Gray Davis so much, why did they elect him governor twice? Did Gray have photos of the entire California electorate naked? Can we see them?

* Why did Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck -- whose sole achievement in 2003 was to co-star in "Gigli," a film so bad it was used to torture suspected terrorists -- receive more media attention than the entire continent of Asia, and nearly as much as Kobe Bryant?

* Who's watching all these "reality" TV shows? Nobody admits to watching them; everybody agrees they're even stupider than those infomercials wherein Ron Popeil spends 30 minutes liquefying vegetables to the rapturous delight of a live, if half-witted, audience. And yet "reality" shows keep getting ratings. Who are the viewers? Have houseplants learned to operate remote controls?

* Can young people wear their pants any lower? Their waistbands are now at approximately knee level. Where will this trend end? The shins? The feet? Will young

people eventually detach themselves from their pants

altogether and just drag them along behind, connected to their ankles by a belt?

We don't know the answers to any of these questions. All we know is that 2003 is finally, we hope, over. But before we move on, let's put our heads between our knees and take one last look back at this remarkable year, which started, as is so often the case, with . . .

JANUARY

. . . which begins with traditional New Year's Day celebrations all over the world, except at the Central Intelligence Agency, which, acting on what it believes to be accurate information, observes Thanksgiving.

In college football, the University of Miami Hurricanes defeat Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and reign as national champions for roughly a week, at the end of which a Fiesta Bowl official -- a man with the reaction time of a sequoia, who has been standing in the end zone the whole time, reflecting on the final play -- throws a penalty flag, thus giving the game to Ohio State in what future legal scholars will deem the most flagrant miscarriage of justice in human history. Not that we Miami fans are still bitter.


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