A shorter version of Dave Barry’s 2015 review
In Paris, two million people march in a solidarity rally following the horrific terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Eyebrows are raised when not a single top U.S. official attends, but several days later, Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in France with James Taylor, who — this really happened — performs the song You’ve Got a Friend. This bold action strikes fear into the hearts of terrorists, who realize that Secretary Kerry is fully capable, if necessary, of unleashing Barry Manilow.
… NBC suspends Nightly News anchor Brian Williams after an investigation reveals inaccuracies in his account of being in a military helicopter under fire in Iraq. “Mr. Williams did not actually come under fire,” states the network. “Also technically he wasn’t in a helicopter in Iraq; it was a Volvo station wagon on the New Jersey Turnpike. But there was a lot of traffic.” A contrite Williams blames the lapse on post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from killing Osama bin Laden.
In the War on Terror, the White House, having struck a powerful blow with the James Taylor Tactical Assault Ballad, boldly follows up by — again, this really happened — hosting a three-day “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism,” featuring both workshops AND symposiums.
In business news, troubled retailer RadioShack files for bankruptcy, citing the fact that in the past six years, the chain’s 4,000 stores had made a nationwide total of one sale, that being a home email server purchased by Hillary Clinton.
Abroad, Russian President Vladimir Putin mysteriously vanishes from public view for 10 days. It is later revealed that he was training customer-service representatives for Comcast.
… there is troubling news from Baltimore, where the death of an African-American man in police custody touches off a conversation on race that lasts several days, resulting in 250 arrests and extensive property damage. The Rev. Al Sharpton rushes to the scene but is unable to prevent things from eventually calming down.
Elsewhere on the political front, Hillary Clinton declares her candidacy for president and sets out to demonstrate that she is a regular human by riding to Iowa in a custom van driven by Secret Service agents.
In Maumee, Ohio, she stops at a Chipotle for takeout, a news event that produces a spasm of political journalism. The New York Times (we are not making this journalism up) breaks the story, reporting that Clinton wore sunglasses and ordered a chicken burrito bowl. Bloomberg gets a follow-up scoop, reporting that the Clinton party’s bill was “$20 and some change” but Clinton “did not leave a tip.” Politico runs a 1,200-word story headlined (we are still not making this up) “The ‘everyday people’ who made Hillary Clinton’s burrito bowl.” Incredibly, nobody thinks to do a profile of the chicken.
In other journalism news, Rolling Stone apologizes for a discredited story about an alleged rape at a college fraternity and announces that it has disciplined its lead fact-checker, Brian Williams.
Responding with drastic measures to California’s worsening drought, Gov. Jerry Brown announces the creation of a state Saliva Conservation Board.
In Garland, Texas, two armed men are gunned down by police after they open fire on a security guard outside an exhibit of Muhammed cartoons, highlighting the need for a national conversation on the problem of cartoonists drawing things that leave religious fanatics with no choice but to try to kill them. James Taylor is unavailable, so federal authorities dispatch The Captain and Tennille to the scene, where they perform a powerful version of Muskrat Love.
As California’s drought continues to worsen, Gov. Brown announces a controversial relief plan involving Lake Superior and a 17-million-foot hose.
… the federal Office of Personnel Management announces that hackers have gained access to the personal records of millions of current and former government employees. An OPM statement downplays the seriousness of the data breach, stressing that “if anybody publishes any photos allegedly depicting an alleged cabinet secretary with an alleged goat, those are fake,” further noting that “it was totally a consenting goat.”
In another disturbing federal story, a report on an undercover investigation into airport security reveals that Transportation Security Administration screeners failed to detect banned items, including weapons and explosives, 67 out of 70 times. Responding to the report, TSA officials state: “What report? We don’t see any report.”
In other gender news, the Treasury Department asks for input from the public on which woman will be depicted on the redesigned $10 bill. The immediate front-runners are Mary Ann, Ginger, Taylor Swift and the two sisters from Frozen.
In political news, the crowded field of Republican presidential hopefuls is joined by a person named “John Kasich,” who claims to have at one time been governor of Ohio, although nobody can verify this. On the Democratic side, enthusiasm builds for the candidacy of 147-year-old socialist Bernie Sanders and his populist plan for reining in Wall Street via a combination of stricter financial controls and strategic beheadings.
But the big international news comes from Vienna, where Iran signs a deal with the United States and five other nations under which Iran, in exchange for a lot of money, promises to stop trying to build a nuclear bomb. President Obama says the deal “makes our country, and the world, safer and more secure.” For his part, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says, quote, “Death to America,” but he says it in what U.S. negotiators describe as “a softer tone.”
… The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that July was the hottest month globally ever recorded. With a renewed sense of urgency, the world’s industrialized nations vow to continue sending large delegations via jumbo jets to distant conferences on climate change until this darned thing has been licked.
In politics, the Republicans hold their first presidential debate, featuring approximately 75 candidates ranging outward in popularity from Donald Trump at center stage to John Kasich and the late Warren G. Harding out at the far edges. Jeb Bush has an off night, falling asleep several times during his own answers. Ben Carson does better, except for when he identifies Pyongyang as “a kind of lobster.” Trump dominates the evening, at one point ordering everybody to shut up while he takes a call onstage from Beyoncé. Savvy Washington-based political insiders agree, after conferring with other savvy Washington-based political insiders, that Trump’s unorthodox behavior will alienate voters and he will be out of the race by fall.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton continues to have no choice but to roll her eyes over all these pesky scandals that her enemies keep dreaming up to prevent her from serving the American people, especially women. The current scandal involves the email server she used as secretary of state, which, in a deviation from government-security standards, was located in her home and had Mrs. Clinton’s personal secret password (“PASSWORD”) written on a sticky note stuck to the front. A Clinton spokesperson, speaking through another Clinton spokesperson who was briefed by a third Clinton spokesperson on condition of anonymity, denies that the server ever held classified emails and promises that it will be turned over to the FBI “as soon as it has been melted down to a softball-sized blob.”
In political news, The New York Times runs the following actual headline: “Hillary Clinton to Show More Humor and Heart, Aides Say.” Mrs. Clinton reportedly will display 17 percent more humor and 23 percent more heart, according to anonymous Clinton aides who were briefed by anonymous Clinton strategists who had direct access to what one source, who asked not to be named, described as “a high-level Clinton confidante.” The source said the Clinton team is also considering having Mrs. Clinton “directly engage selected voters in banter.”
… Hillary Clinton testifies for 127 straight hours before the House Committee On Investigating Benghazi Until The Earth Crashes Into The Sun. There are many testy exchanges between Clinton and Republican congressmen, but in the end the American public has a much clearer picture of the extremely high level of mutual loathing that makes our government work the way it does.
In other political news, a person calling himself “Lincoln Chafee” manages to get onto the stage of the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate on CNN and make several policy statements before he is noticed by security and escorted out. This might have been embarrassing for the Democrats, but fortunately nobody is watching CNN, including moderator Anderson Cooper, who is openly playing Candy Crush.
After much agonizing, Vice President Joe Biden announces that he will not run for president, stressing that the decision had nothing to do with the severed horse head wearing a HILLARY! button he found in his bed, which Biden says he believes “was meant in a supportive way.”
… the world reels in shock after horrific terrorist attacks in Paris and Mali. With rumors of new threats coming daily, the U.S. State Department briefly considers unleashing Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand (code name “Doomsday Duet”) to sing You Don’t Bring Me Flowers but elects instead to issue a Worldwide Travel Alert, warning American citizens to avoid potentially dangerous areas, “especially the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.” The department assures Americans that “there is no need to panic,” stressing that they should “remain in bed paralyzed by butt-puckering fear.”
But November is not just a time for fear: It is also a time, as Thanksgiving ushers in the holiday season, for all Americans, regardless of ethnicity, religion or political views, to be deeply offended. Nobody is more offended than college students, who stage a series of protests over the racism, sexism, fascism, heteronormism and — trigger warning — insensitive Halloween costumes that constitute the festering hellhole of hurtful things that is the modern American college campus and THERE IS NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT IT.
Also deeply offended in November are people who have taken time out of their busy lives to notice that the 2015 Starbucks holiday cup is just plain red and — trigger warning — does not have snowflakes or reindeer on it. This is yet another salvo in the War On Christmas, which has completely eliminated Christmas from our lives except for Christmas carols playing on loudspeakers everywhere and huge Christmas displays in every store and Christmas movies on TV constantly and numerous Christmas-related news stories and an endless stream of Christmas-themed commercials running 24/7 since approximately Labor Day.
In presidential politics, Ben Carson reacts angrily to CNN reports suggesting that he never tried to stab anybody or hit his mother with a hammer. Really. Donald Trump continues his two-pronged campaign of saying reprehensible things and then clarifying his statements by saying he didn’t really say them so STOP HATING YOU PATHETIC LOSERS, a strategy that continues to cost him vital support among knowledgeable Washington insiders. Jeb Bush seeks to revive his flagging campaign by unleashing an awesome new slogan —“Jeb Can Fix It!” — and immediately surges ahead in the coveted 3-year-old-boy voter demographic.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton continues to execute spontaneous acts such as smiling while campaigning on the theme that she is both a human being and a woman who cares about other humans in the middle class and women specifically.
As the month draws to a close, tensions in the Middle East run high amid rumors that the Obama administration, in what would be a major escalation of American presence, is considering staging a Black Friday sale in Syria. Fortunately these rumors prove to be false and the worst retail violence is confined within U.S. borders.
With the menacing specter of global climate change looming like some kind of spectral menace or something, 150 world leaders, finally getting serious about this urgent threat to the planet’s future, decide to stay home and confer via Skype.
Ha ha! Seriously, the leaders all fly to Paris, where they and their security details and their vast minion entourages travel around in high-speed motorcades to attend dinners and make speeches about the importance of figuring out how to reduce these pesky carbon emissions. In the end they sign a Historic Agreement under which all parties commit to a concrete, legally binding and unbreakable schedule of potentially attending additional conferences at some point in the future, although skeptics note that Chinese President Xi Jinping signs his name on the official document as “Phil McCracken.”
As the year finally staggers to a close, Americans set aside their differences, if only briefly, and join together in the cherished, time-honored tradition of pretending that New Year’s Eve is fun. So let’s raise a glass to toast the demise of 2015. Then let’s set the glass down untasted, in case God forbid it contains gluten. Then let’s go to bed.
Happy New Year.