The Decade In Review
2000 (UN International Year for Declaring Peace Is Better Than War) – Stunned by the near collapse of civilization caused by the Y2K disaster, the dot.com bubble bursts, as millions of investors lose billions of dollars in what turn out to be essentially worthless assets. Fortunately, however, this sobering experience teaches both personal investors and the financial community a lasting lesson in the constant need for due diligence and sound investment in real and lasting value and the financial markets have grown steadily except for a minor downturn in 2007 ever since. Hillary Rodham Clinton furthers the cause of feminism by becoming elected a senator from New York on the strength of her personal qualifications alone. The Jamaican luge team mistakenly arrives for the Summer Olympics.
2001 (UN International Year of Kubrick Films) – Outraged at the discovery of a towering obsidian slab appearing in the midst of one of their millions of holy sites, a handful of Middle Eastern religious fanatics with financial and ideological ties to Saudi Arabia commandeer several commercial airplanes and crash them into the Pentagon and New York’s World Trade Center, killing thousands. An even more outraged America supports President George W. Bush’s decision to retaliate by laying plans to invade several neighboring Middle Eastern countries lacking the Bush family’s close personal ties to the Royal Saudi family. Bush also explains to the American people that the terrorists “hate us for our freedoms” and that the only way to stop future acts of terrorism is for the U.S. government to take away as many of those freedoms as possible. Following emergency legislation by Congress, American pundits are required by law to write at least one version of the “bombing Afghanistan into the stone age would be an upgrade” joke as a prelude to the invasion. The U.S. then invades Afghanistan, a nation that had fought off the Soviet Union for a decade, and defeats it in a war lasting approximately thirty seven minutes. The Taliban is destroyed and never heard from again.
2002 (UN International Year of Ecotourists Wearing Crocs) – Twelve member states of the European Union convert their national currencies to the Euro, replacing portraits of national rulers and nationalist symbols with astrological symbols and a picture of Orangina on one side and a portrait of Bono on the other. Tourism booms as Americans discover they now need to convert only one foreign currency into “real money.” Except, of course, in England which retains the Cadbury bar as its official unit of currency. The No Child Left Behind Act is signed into law by President Bush. Parochial schools briefly consider but decide against a similar policy entitled No Child’s Behind Left. Citing the lack of preparedness of most high school graduates, the School of Hard Knocks founds the Light Slaps Preparatory Academy. John Allen Muhammad (nee Williams), aka The Beltway Sniper, stages a seemingly random series of attacks in the Washington D.C. area, eventually killing at least ten people. Upon his final capture, white people are relieved to discover that finally, at long last a serial killer turns out not to be one of them.
2003 (UN International Year of Fresh Water Fishing) – Hu Jintao becomes president of the People’s Republic of China, running on the campaign slogan “Let a million factories to supply Wal-Mart bloom.” Secretary of State Colin Powell explains to the United Nations that the U.S. has irrefutable proof that former President George H.W. Bush mislaid his Skull & Bones key ring somewhere in Iraq and urges the UN to authorize his son to “send in a few troops to look for it.” As it turns out, the key ring turns up several years later in a desk drawer in the Oval Office inside a box of stale cigars with a cryptic Post-it note reading “To the Big Guy, Love, Monica.” While they’re there, though, U.S. troops stumble onto Osama bin Laden in a hidden bunker playing pinochle with his best friend, Saddam Hussein and a vast store of weapons of mass destruction including the collected works of Pauly Shore. Despite Hussein’s former close personal ties to the Bush family, he meets an untimely, in the sense of overdue, death in a failed bungee jump attempt. After a stern talking to, Bin Laden admits that “this whole terrorist business has gotten out of hand” and retires to one of his family’s summer caves on the Pakistani border. Al-Qaeda is disbanded and never heard from again. Gasoline prices plummet after Iraq enthusiastically embraces democracy and remain around 25 cents a gallon ever since.
2004 (UN International Year of Rice-A-Roni, “The San Francisco Treat!”) – Ronald Reagan dies. As the six day long state funeral generates the highest Nielsen ratings of his career, Congress narrowly fails to pass legislation renaming America the United States of Reagan. George W. Bush is re-elected or, if you prefer, finally elected president with an overwhelming mandate of 50.7% of the popular vote. 230,000 people are killed when a tsunami hits Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other states in the Indian Ocean. Fortunately, most of the survivors have federal flood insurance policies and quickly rebuild. The Vatican gains full UN membership except voting rights and immediately introduces a resolution condemning Israel. The Montreal Expos move to Washington, D.C., restoring the city’s proud tradition of a perennial cellar dwelling Major League Baseball team.
2005 (End of the UN International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, “You’re on your own now, natives!”) – The Kyoto Protocol to combat global warming is established. Eventually, 187 nations ratify the agreement, none of which then proceed to comply with its terms. Hurricane Katrina strikes coastal areas from Louisiana to Alabama, killing over 1,800 people. Outraged Americans, most of whom were completely oblivious to last year’s tsunami, accuse the federal government of failing to meet its constitutional responsibility to provide good weather. President Bush flies over the flooded area in Air Force One to observe the damage. Later it is discovered the flooded area just happened to be on the flight path to his Texas ranch, anyway. Controversial drawings of Muhammad playing poker with Jesus, Moses, Buddha and Elvis lead to protests across the Muslim world and at Graceland.
2006 (UN International Year of Tasty Desserts) – North Korea (motto: Powerful and Prosperous Nation) performs its first successful nuclear test. North Korean President Kim Jong-il explains that the weapons are necessary to protect North Korea from foreign enemies who “hate us for our freedoms.” Hugo Chavez is re-elected president of Venezuela, vowing to continue the socialist struggle against the imperialist powers who “hate us for our freedoms.” Despite cries of outrage from major stockholders in the Disney Company, Pluto is demoted to “dwarf planet” status. Millions of elementary school science tests are retroactively downgraded. Vice President Dick Cheney officially opens the Lawyer Season in southern Texas.
2007 (UN International Year of Flipper) – The United States population reaches the 300 million mark. 350 million if illegal aliens are counted. The U.S. also experiences a minor economic downturn, apparently the result of a small number of residential mortgages for which the lenders failed to confirm that the borrowers had, in fact, finished the basements and remodeled the kitchens as they said on their applications. Following news of the death of Marcel Marceau, millions pay their respects with a moment of silence. While President Bush undergoes a colonoscopy, Dick Cheney serves for 2 ½ hours as Acting President, during which time he orders a preemptive nuclear strike on North Korea, France and Massachusetts. Luckily, however, the launch codes had been misplaced and are only later discovered in the course of the president’s colonoscopy.
2008 (UN International Year of Mr. Potato-Head) – Barack Obama is elected president of the United States, proving once and for all that a modern, Harvard educated, charismatic son of a white woman could be elected president even if his name wasn’t Kennedy. Fidel Castro resigns as president of Cuba, declaring in a 3 ½ hour speech that the time has come for a younger man named Castro to take over the helm and continue the socialist struggle against the imperialist powers who “hate us for our freedoms.” Iceland goes bankrupt, considers renaming itself to Greenland II to promote tourism. The Channel Island of Fark officially abolishes feudalism. As the Writers Guild of America strike continues, the Golden Globe Awards are canceled because no one could be found to write the winners’ names on those little cards. New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announces his resignation so he can “spend more time with his rented family.”
2009 (UN International Year of Natural Fibers (No, really![/efn_note] – Following a botched initial attempt by Chief Justice Roberts to read a short paragraph of simple English correctly, Barack Obama is finally inaugurated as president of General Motors. A member of Congress accuses the president of lying, a situation roughly analogous to a streetwalker accusing a call girl of promiscuity. Bolivia becomes the first South American country to declare the right of indigenous people to govern themselves, following which Bolivian natives open the largest gambling casino in South America. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin resigns “to spend more time with Eliot Spitzer’s family.” Late Night host David Letterman reveals an extortion plot “threatening to disclose he’d been spending time with Sarah Palin’s family.” After an eight month long election contest, Al Franken is declared the winner of Minnesota Idol and takes his seat in the World’s Greatest Debilitative Body. Michael Jackson dies, prompting resurgent sales of Jackson’s “Thriller,” almost catching up with the Beatles “1” as the best selling album of the decade and further proving the pointlessness of any popular music recorded less than 25 years ago. Avatar proves to be the most annoyingly unwatchable movie of the decade, edging out The Hottie & the Nottie.
2010 (UN International Year of Denying that Supporting Biodiversity Encourages Bestiality) – Conan O’Brien celebrates his first hugely successful year as host of The Tonight Show. Ted Kennedy celebrates his first year of sobriety. Toyota reconsiders its Moving Forward slogan. Manute Bol dies, putting the other half of Gary Colman’s casket to good use. The District of Columbia legalizes same sex marriage and divorce law practices immediately spring up all over Dupont Circle. The U.S. Navy bans cigarettes but ends its ban of women on submarines, a policy change informally called“Ash to Ass.” Republicans enjoy a 54 seat gain and returned control of the House of Representatives after mid-term elections, vow to investigate rumors of excessive government spending since the end of the Carter Administration. Ron Paul becomes chairman of the House Subcommittee overseeing the Federal Reserve, a turn of events roughly equivalent to David Duke becoming the head of the NAACP. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel resigns to run for Mayor of Chicago, use of profanity in the White House drops 90%. WikiLeaks publishes embarrassing classified North Korean and Iranian documents resulting in condemnation by Kim Jong-il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over WikiLeaks’ blatant disregard of the rule of law. The decade ends or the first anniversary of the end of the first decade of the 21st century ends, whichever you prefer, and not one minute too soon.
[Note: Personal affairs have regrettably precluded my blogging of late and will likely continue to do so into early 2011. Lest premature reports of my death or departure begin to circulate, herewith is my last blog post from 2009, updated for those who believe the first decade of the 21st century is only now drawing to an end. — DAR]