Dave Barry’s year in review: Yeah, that really happened

 In U.S.




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Looking back on 2017 is like waking up after a party where you made some poor decisions, such as drinking tequila squeezed from the underpants of a person you do not really know.

The next day finds you lying naked in a dumpster in a different state, smeared from head to toe with a mixture of sriracha sauce and glitter. At first you remember nothing. But then, as your throbbing brain slowly reboots, disturbing memories of the night before begin creeping into your consciousness. As the full, hideous picture comes into focus, you curl into a ball, whimpering, asking yourself over and over: Did that really happen?

That’s how we feel about 2017. It was a year so surreal, so densely populated with strange and alarming events, that you have to seriously consider the possibility that somebody — and when we say “somebody,” we mean “Russia” — was putting LSD in our water supply. A bizarre event would occur, and it would be all over the news, but before we could wrap our minds around it, another bizarre event would occur, then another and another, coming at us faster and faster, battering the nation with a Category 5 weirdness hurricane that left us hunkering down, clinging to our sanity, no longer certain what was real.

Take “covfefe.” Remember? For a little while, it was huge. Everybody was talking about it! Covfefe! But then, just like that, it was gone. What the hell was it? Did it even really happen?

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Another example: We have this vague memory that, for the briefest flicker of a moment, the White House communications director was a pathologically bronze man named Anthony Scaramucci, who remember, this was the White House communications director — called up a reporter for The New Yorker and informed him, on the record, that he, Anthony Scaramucci, differed from White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in that he, Anthony Scaramucci, THE WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, was not trying to commit an act of self-gratification that would be extremely challenging even for a professional contortionist.

Did that really happen?

And were there really thousands of people marching around Washington wearing vagina hats?

And did the secretary of state really call the president of the United States a “moron”?

And did the president (of the United States!) respond by challenging the secretary of state to compare IQ tests?

We want to believe that we imagined these things. But we fear we did not.

There’s one thing we definitely remember happening in 2017: the “fidget spinner” fad. This was huge, and for a good reason — it was extremely stupid. In terms of mental stimulation, fidget spinning makes nose picking look like three-dimensional chess. You mindlessly spin the thing around and around, accomplishing nothing. It’s an idiotic, brain-cell-destroying waste of time.

So it was the perfect fad for 2017.

The perfect artistic achievement was The Emoji Movie, which was released in July and was widely hailed by critics as possibly the stupidest movie ever made. It was the fidget spinner of movies. One of the emoji voices was provided by the distinguished British actor Patrick Stewart, who has been awarded many honors, including a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.

The role played by Sir Patrick Stewart was: Poop.

If that wasn’t the essence of 2017, we don’t know what was.

So now, finally, it is time to flush this turd of a year down the commode of history. But before we do, let’s don eclipse glasses to prevent retina damage, then take one last flinching look back at the events of 2017, starting with . . . 

JANUARY

. . . which begins with the nation still bitterly divided over the 2016 election. On one side are the progressives, who refuse to accept Donald Trump as president, their reasoning being that:

1. He is Hitler.

2. He is literally Hitler.

3. He is LITERALLY WORSE THAN HITLER.

On the other side are the Trump supporters, whose position is:

1. You lost!

2. You whiny liberal pukes.

3. SHUT UP, LOSERS.

So there does not appear to be a lot of common ground between these positions. Nevertheless, as the year progresses, the two sides will gradually find a way — call it the open-minded generosity of the American spirit — to loathe each other even more.

For his part, President Trump, having campaigned on three major promises — to build a border wall, repeal Obamacare, and reform the tax system — immediately upon being sworn in rolls up his sleeves and gets down to the vital task of disputing news-media estimates of the size of the crowd at his inauguration, which the president claims — and Fox News confirms — was “the largest group of humans ever assembled.” The president also finds time, in his role as commander in chief, to tweet out numerous randomly punctuated tweets.

Assisting the president as he pursues this agenda is a crack White House team that includes Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Michael Flynn, Reince Priebus, and Sean Spicer, all of whom will, in the weeks and months that follow, disappear like teenagers in a Friday the 13th movie. In the Trump White House, you never know who will get whacked next, but you know somebody will. Although Melania seems reasonably secure in the post of first lady. For now.

Meanwhile the big emerging journalism story is the Russians, who according to many unnamed sources messed with the election. Nobody seems to know how, specifically, the Russians affected the election, but everybody is pretty sure they did something, especially CNN, which has not been so excited about a story since those heady months in 2014 when it provided 24/7 video coverage of random objects floating in the Pacific while panels of experts speculated on whether these objects might or might not have anything to do with that missing Malaysian airliner. You can tune in to CNN any time, day or night, and you are virtually guaranteed to hear the word “Russians” within 10 seconds, even if it’s during a Depends commercial.

The most exciting Russian angle concerns an alleged “dossier” that allegedly alleges that Trump allegedly paid some alleged Russian prostitutes to allegedly urinate on an alleged bed that had allegedly been used by President Barack Obama during an alleged visit to Moscow. There appears to be no evidence whatsoever that this allegation is true, but since it involves two US presidents and prostitutes and urine, many major news outlets — you know who you are — have no journalistic alternative but to run with it.

The biggest political story comes at the end of the month, when Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, noting that the letters in “Neil Gorsuch” can be rearranged to spell both “Heroic Lungs” and “Lunch Orgies.” Democratic leaders pledge to give Gorsuch a fair and open-minded hearing, then destroy him.

Finally, in the month’s non-Trump news, we have this: You’re an idiot. There was no non-Trump news.

This trend will continue in . . . 

FEBRUARY

. . . when the Russia scandal claims its first victim, Michael Flynn, who is forced to resign as the president’s national security adviser following revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussions he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, whose name can be rearranged to spell “Seeks Girly Yak.” President Trump thanks Flynn for his estimated two hours and 35 minutes of outstanding service to the administration, then resumes his laser-like executive concentration on the crucial task of emitting grammatically questionable tweets about FAKE NEWS. The already strained relationship between the Trump administration and the press deteriorates into open hostility, culminating in a White House press briefing that consists entirely of press secretary Sean Spicer and CNN correspondent Jim Acosta spitting on each other.

There actually are a few non-Trump events in February:

  NASA, in a major scientific discovery, announces that a star system 39 light-years away contains seven Earth-size planets, at least three of which appear to have Starbucks.

  In the Super Bowl, 57-year-old quarterback Tom Brady leads the New England Patriots to a remarkable comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons that definitely involved cheating. We just don’t know how yet.

  The entertainment highlight of the month comes during the Academy Awards, when PricewaterhouseCoopers (motto: “The Fidget Spinner of Consulting Firms”) comes up with a brilliant gambit to enliven the 14-hour broadcast by handing Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway the wrong envelope for Best Picture. Hilarity ensues, and PricewaterhouseCoopers is immediately hired by congressional Republican leadership to develop a strategy for repealing Obamacare.

In foreign news, North Korea, in what some observers view as an act of deliberate provocation, launches a missile that lands in downtown Honolulu. This seems ominous, but at the time everybody in Washington is still focused on the urination dossier.

This focus continues in . . . 

MARCH

. . . when Washington is consumed by Russia Mania, to the point where the panels of expert speculators on CNN are being fed intravenously on-air so they don’t have to take even a moment’s break from speculating about all the alleged things that the Russians have allegedly been up to. Adding fuel to the fire is FBI Director James Comey, who tells a hearing of the House Committee on Holding Hearings that the Russians definitely were involved in the 2016 election and currently control the Department of Commerce, the Coast Guard, and as many as eight state legislatures.

For his part, President Tweet declares — and Fox News confirms — that the allegations that Russia helped him are FAKE NEWS and furthermore the Russians had numerous contacts with Democrats, including Barack Obama, the Clintons, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi. This raises the question: If all these Russians were over here making contacts and interfering with our elections, who the hell was running Russia? Poland?

Photo-illustration by Greg Klee; Putin photo from AP, Flynn from Reuters

On the legislative front, the big story is Obamacare, which the Republicans have been running against for seven straight years. Their message has been: “Vote for us, and we WILL get rid of Obamacare!” So now that they control the White House and both houses of Congress, there can be no stopping them. It’s time to deliver! GET READY FOR A REPUBLICAN-LEADERSHIP-STYLE BUTT-WHUPPIN’, OBAMACARE!

When the smoke clears, Obamacare is sitting at the bar, unscathed and sipping a whiskey. Republican congressional leaders are strewn all over the barroom floor, noses bleeding, underpants pulled over their foreheads. But this setback does not deter them for long. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start making plans for their next bold legislative masterstroke. For that is the kind of leadership they are.

In sports, National Football Concussion League team owners approve the move of the Oakland Raiders to Nevada, where the team will be known as the Las Vegas Point Spreads.

Speaking of excitement, in . . .

APRIL

. . . tension mounts on the Korean peninsula when Vice President Mike Pence visits South Korea and, while expressing resolve and gazing sternly across the DMZ, is brushed by an extremely low-flying North Korean missile that leaves him clothed in nothing but boxer shorts and a red necktie. In response, President Trump vows to “send some really huge Navy boats over there, believe me.” Pentagon sources note that this threat is contingent upon the Navy being able to get the engines started.

The Senate confirms the Neil Gorsuch nomination by a 54-45 vote after Republican senators invoke the “nuclear option” under which nobody is allowed to go to the bathroom until a vote has been taken. This brings the Supreme Court back to its full complement of nine justices, at least six of whom are believed to still be alive.

Bill O’Reilly, beset by accusations of sexual harassment, is fired by Fox News and immediately hired as director of new project development by the Weinstein Company.

In aviation news, United Airlines (“The Fidget Spinner of Airlines”) breaks new customer-service ground when it decides that a 69-year-old passenger who has already boarded his flight must be “reaccommodated” via a technique similar to the one the Mexican Army used to reaccommodate the Texans at the Alamo, leaving him with a concussion, broken teeth, and a broken nose. At first United’s CEO defends the airline’s actions on the grounds that, quote, “we have the collective IQ of a starfish.” But after a firestorm of public outrage he apologizes and promises that in the future United will employ a “more humane” reaccommodation policy based on “respect for our customers and, when needed, tranquilizer darts.”

In college basketball, the NCAA men’s tournament — which epitomizes the true spirit of American amateur athletics — concludes when a Nike team, which got to the finals by beating another Nike team, wins the championship by defeating yet another Nike team, triggering jubilant celebrations far into the night at Nike corporate headquarters.

Speaking of triggering, in . . .

MAY

. . . Trump fires FBI Director James Comey in an effort to get rid of this pesky FAKE NEWS — as confirmed by Fox News — Russia distraction so the administration can get on with the critical work of failing to enact its agenda. The result of the firing, of course, is that the political/media complex becomes even more obsessed with the Russians, who according to CNN sources now make up 47 percent of the population of Washington, D.C. Under intense pressure to do something, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whose name can be rearranged to spell “Snootier Nerds,” appoints former FBI director Robert Mueller (“Mr. Leer Trouble”) as special counsel, with the power to, quote, “investigate this Russian thing until the Earth crashes into the sun.”

In other political developments, Greg Gianforte, a Republican running for Montana’s vacant congressional seat, gets national headlines when he body-slams a reporter for The Guardian. He is immediately hired as director of customer relations by United Airlines.

No, seriously, despite being charged with assault, Gianforte wins easily, yet another indication that in much of the nation journalists enjoy the same level of popularity as head lice.

In international news, Trump attends the G7 summit in Sicily, where a major agenda item is climate change, which the president has stated — and Fox News has confirmed — is a HOAX. The summit ends in disappointment when the heads of state of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom inform Trump that he cannot legally fire them.

In sports, the Kentucky Derby is won by a horse with a large swoosh tattooed on its butt.

Speaking of triumphs, in . . .

JUNE

. . . Republican congressional leaders, determined to avenge their humiliating defeat at the hands of Obamacare, emerge after months of closed-door meetings with a new, smarter repeal strategy. The GOP, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch “Mojo” McConnell, is cagey about the details, but sources say the plan involves a “high cliff” and a “really heavy safe,” which the Republicans plan to purchase from the Acme Corp.

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