Dave Barry’s 2011 Year in Review
By Dave Barry
Battle of the bulge, a tangled web and economic disaster far and wide
It was the kind of year that made a person look back fondly on the Gulf oil spill.
Granted, the oil spill was bad. But it did not result in a high-decibel, weeks-long national conversation about a bulge in a congressman’s underpants. Which is exactly what we had in the Festival of Sleaze that was 2011. Remember? There were days when you could not escape The Bulge. At dinnertime, parents of young children had to be constantly ready to hurl themselves in front of their TV screens, for fear that it would suddenly appear on the news in high definition. For a brief (Har!) period, The Bulge was more famous than Justin Bieber.
And when, at last, we were done with The Bulge, and we were able to turn our attention to the presidential election, and the important issues facing us, as a nation, in these troubled times, it turned out that the main issue, to judge by quantity of press coverage, was: groping.
So finally, repelled by the drainage ditch that our political system has become, we turned for escape to an institution that represents all that is pure and wholesome and decent in America today: college football.
That was when we started to have fond memories of the oil spill.
I’m not saying that the entire year was ruined by sleaze. It was also ruined by other bad things. This was a year in which journalism was pretty much completely replaced by tweeting. It was a year in which a significant earthquake struck Washington, D.C., yet failed to destroy a single federal agency. It was a year in which the nation was subjected to a seemingly endless barrage of highly publicized pronouncements from Charlie Sheen, a man who, where you have a central nervous system, has a Magic 8-Ball.
This was a year in which the cast members of Jersey Shore went to Italy and then — in an inexcusable lapse of border security — were allowed to return.
But all of these developments, unfortunate as they were, would not by themselves have made 2011 truly awful. What made it truly awful was the economy, which, for what felt like the 17th straight year, continued to stagger around like a zombie on crack. Nothing seemed to help. President Obama, whose instinctive reaction to pretty much everything that happens, including sunrise, is to deliver a nationally televised address, delivered numerous nationally televised addresses on the economy, but somehow these did not do the trick. Neither did the approximately 37 million words emitted by the approximately 249 Republican-presidential-contender televised debates, out of which the single most memorable statement made was, quote: “Oops.”
As the year wore on, frustration finally boiled over in the form of the Occupy Various Random Spaces movement, wherein people who were sick and tired of a lot of stuff finally got off their butts and started working for meaningful change via direct action in the form of sitting around and forming multiple committees and drumming and not directly issuing any specific demands but definitely having a lot of strongly held views for and against a wide variety of things. Incredibly, even this did not bring about meaningful change. The economy remained wretched, especially unemployment, which got so bad that many Americans gave up even trying to work. Congress, for example.
Were there ANY positive developments in 2011? Yes:
• Osama bin Laden, Moammar Gadhafi, and the New York Yankees all suffered major setbacks.
• Kim Kardashian finally found her lifetime soulmate for nearly two and a half months.
• Despite a prophecy by revered Christian radio lunatic Harold Camping, the world did not end on May 21.
Come to think of it, that last development wasn’t totally positive, not when we consider all the other things that happened in 2011. In case you’ve blotted it out, let’s take one last look back, through squinted eyelids, at this train-wreck of a year, starting with …
… which sees a change of power in the House of Representatives, as outgoing Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi hands the gavel over to Republican John Boehner, who, in the new spirit of Washington bipartisanship, has it checked for explosives.
In the State of the Union address, President Obama calls on Congress to improve the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. He is interrupted 79 times by applause, and four times by falling chunks of the Capitol ceiling. In other Washington action, Chinese President Hu Jintao is honored at a White House dinner for 225 luminaries, who dine on prime rib accompanied by 17,000 little plastic packets of soy sauce. As the official state gift from the United States, President Obama presents Hu with a six-pack of Bud Light, this being the only American product the White House staff can find that is not manufactured in China.
The month’s biggest story is a tragedy in Tucson, where a man opens fire on a meet-and-greet being held by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The accused shooter turns out to be a mentally unstable loner with a history of drug use; there is no evidence that his actions had anything to do with uncivil political rhetoric. So naturally the blame for the tragedy is immediately placed on: uncivil political rhetoric. This results in a nationwide spasm of civil political rhetoric lasting about two hours, after which everybody returns to uncivil political rhetoric, which has been the norm in the United States for two centuries.
In Egypt, demonstrators take to the streets to protest the three-decade regime of President Hosni Mubarak following revelations that “Hosni Mubarak” can be rearranged to spell “A Bum Honks Air.” The movement continues to grow in …
… when “Arab Spring” anti-government protest demonstrations spread from Egypt to Yemen, then to Iraq, then to Libya, and finally — in a development long feared by the U.S. government — to the volatile streets of Madison, Wisc., where thousands of protesters occupy the state capitol to dramatize the fact that it’s warmer in there than outside. As the protests escalate, 14 Democratic Wisconsin state legislators flee to Illinois, where they barricade themselves in a hotel and, after a heated four-hour debate, decide, by a 7-4 vote with three abstentions, to order room service.
In other national news, a massive snowstorm paralyzes the Midwest, forcing a shutdown of Chicago’s O’Hare airport after more than a dozen planes are attacked by yetis. President Obama responds with a nationally televised speech pointing out that the storm was caused by a weather system inherited from a previous administration.
In Europe, the economic crisis continues to worsen, especially in Greece, which has been operating under a financial model in which the government spends approximately $150 billion a year while taking in revenues totaling $336.50 from the lone Greek taxpayer, an Athens businessman who plans to retire in April. Greece has been making up the shortfall by charging everything to a MasterCard account that the Greek government applied for — in what some critics consider a questionable financial practice — using the name “Germany.”
In a historic episode of the TV quiz show Jeopardy!, two human champions are swiftly dispatched by an IBM supercomputer named Watson, which combines an encyclopedic knowledge of a wide range of subjects with the ability to launch a 60,000-volt surge of electricity 25 feet.
On Broadway, the troubled musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark suffers a setback when three actors and 11 audience members are injured in what the producers describe as a “a catastrophic Spandex failure.”
In sports, two storied NFL franchises, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, meet in Super Bowl XLV, a tense, back-and-forth battle won at the last minute, in a true shocker, by Watson the IBM supercomputer.
Speaking of shocking, in …
… the European economic crisis worsens still further as Moody’s downgrades its credit rating for Spain following the discovery that the Spanish government, having run completely out of money, secretly sold the Pyrenees to China and is now separated from France only by traffic cones. In domestic news, the renegade Wisconsin Democratic state legislators are finally captured in a late-night raid by the elite Wisconsin State Parliamentarian SWAT team, which knocks down the legislators’ hotel-room door using a 200-pound, steel-reinforced edition of Robert’s Rules of Order. The SWAT team then subdues the legislators using what one source describes as “a series of extremely aggressive cloture votes.”
On the national political front, Newt Gingrich, responding to a groundswell of encouragement from the voices in his head, reveals that he is considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination. He quickly gains the support of the voter who had been leaning toward Ross Perot.
In tech news, Apple, with much fanfare, unveils the latest model of its hugely popular iPad tablet computer. The new model, called the iPad 2, is similar to the original iPad but — in yet another example of the brilliant customer-pleasing innovation that Apple has become famous for — has a “2” after it. Apple enthusiasts line up by the thousands to buy the new model, even as excitement builds for the next iPad, which, according to rumors swirling around an excited Apple-fan community, will feature a “3.”
The troubled musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark suffers yet another setback when four orchestra musicians are killed by what producers describe as a “freak clarinet accident.” Responding to the tragedy, President Obama delivers a nationally televised address, expressing his personal sympathy and noting that Republicans in Congress have repeatedly blocked the administration’s proposed $37 billion Federal Department of Woodwind Safety, which would create literally dozens of jobs.
In sports, National Football League owners lock out the players after negotiations break down over the issue of — in the words of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — “locker rooms being littered with reeking jockstraps the size of hammocks.”
Speaking of negotiations, in …
To read the rest of Dave Barry's Year in Review click link: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/31/v-fullstory/2568230/dave-barrys-2011-year-in-review.html#storylink=cpy#storylink=cpy
Remember, in truth there is humor.
Hope this makes your work week a little easier!