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That Blasted Year

In another controversial move, the president announces that he will use National Guard troops to stop illegal immigration. The initial troops are assigned to guard the border between Mexico and Arizona, with California, New Mexico and Texas being covered by Dick Cheney.

In Houston, former Enron executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling are convicted of fraud by a federal jury, which apparently is not persuaded by the defense's claim that Skilling and Lay could not have been responsible for the collapse of the $100 billion corporation because they were, quote, "both getting haircuts."

TRUE FACT: After the verdict, Lay says, "We believe God in fact is in control."

ANOTHER TRUE FACT: Less than two months later, Lay will die of heart failure.

In sports, Barbaro, the popular racehorse who won the Kentucky Derby, breaks his leg in the Preakness after a freak collision with Bode Miller. Barbaro is forced to retire, although his agent does not rule out future appearances on "Dancing With the Stars." Meanwhile the hottest show on TV is the much-hyped finale of "American Idol," which is won by crooner Taylor Hicks, who narrowly edges out Nancy Pelosi.

[JUNE]

. . . the big sports story is the start of the World Cup tournament, with U.S. fans hopeful that our players have finally caught up with the rest of the world in soccer. The American team arrives in Italy brimming with confidence, only to be informed that the tournament is being held in Germany. Undaunted, the team boards a train for Geneva, with the coach promising that "we will score many touchdowns."

In politics, the debate over Iraq continues to heat up, with President Bush insisting that "we must stay the course, whatever it may or may not be," while the Democrats claim that they would bring the troops home "immediately," or "in about six months," or "maybe not for a long time," depending on which particular Democrat is speaking and what time of day it is. On a more positive note, U.S. troops kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is identified by intelligence experts as "a person with a really terrorist-sounding name." In another hopeful development in Iraq, the Sunnis and the Shiites agree to try to come up with a simple way for Americans to remember which one is which.

On the legal front, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Bush administration cannot try suspected terrorists in ad hoc military tribunals, after the court learns that the administration is interpreting "ad hoc" to mean "under water."

Dan Rather, who stopped anchoring the evening news in 2005, announces his retirement from CBS after a career spanning 44 years and several galaxies. Explaining his decision, Rather cites a desire to "explore other options" and "not keep getting maced by the CBS security guard."

On a happier note, the United States marks the 50th anniversary of the interstate highway system -- an engineering marvel consisting of 47,000 miles of high-speed roads connecting 157,000 Waffle Houses. A formal ceremony is planned, but it has to be canceled when Dad refuses to stop.

[JULY]

. . . the Tour de France bicycle race is once again tainted by suspicions of doping when the winner, American Floyd Landis, is clocked ascending the Alps at over 200 mph. Landis denies that he uses illegal drugs, attributing his performance to, quote, "gears."

In other sports highlights, Italy defeats France in a World Cup final match that is marred by a violent head-butting incident involving Bode Miller. The U.S. team fares poorly in the World Cup, failing to win a single match; the players blame this on their inability to adjust to the "no hands" rule.


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