2004: Year In Preview

Fake News written by James Baughn on Tuesday, December 30, 2003

from the welcome-to-aught-four dept.

Crystal ball readers have the easiest jobs in the world. They can make up whatever crap their clients want to hear, and the client will always remember the one prediction that comes true, while forgetting the other 1,534 predictions that were total bunk.

We here at The Cape Rock stumbled across a second-hand crystal ball at a yard sale recently, and we hope to follow the same recipe for success. After several hours of staring at the fuzzy images in the ball, we were able to make up the following timeline of events for the coming year. Enjoy, but rememeber to not get too excited if one of these "predictions" actually comes true.

January 4 - After a group of disgruntled octagenarians picket outside the offices of the Southeast Missourian carrying signs like "The comics are too small!" and "I have cataracts bigger than this crossword puzzle!", the newspaper agrees to hand out free magnifying glasses with each paid subscription. However, the editor explains, "Despite the fact that the paper's typeface shrinks by an average of 5% each month, we have decided not to provide electron microscopes."

January 8 - With beef prices in the toilet as the result of the "Great Mad Cow Scare of Late 2003 And Early 2004", one farmer near Uniontown converts his livestock into a profitable rental service. For a small fee, customers will be able to rent his cows to help trim lawns or to deliver fertilizer. Chickens will be leased to eat ticks and other annoying insects in yards, and pigs will be available for... for... well, let's face it, pigs aren't good for much except eating.

January 12 - Last year, Curtis "Cur" Mudgeon of Whitewater refused to take down his 23,000-light Christmas display until April. This year, neighbors have already taken matters into their own hands by forcibly removing the garish displays and donating the lights and dancing reindeer to the Salvation Army.

January 13 - The Missouri Supreme Court postpones arguments in the concealed carry lawsuit after one of the plaintiffs reports that his dog ate his briefcase -- really. "I'm terribly sorry, Your Honor, but my puppy has an appetite problem..."

January 18 - As part of the "War On Obesity", California spearheads a program to subsidize certain health foods such as asparagus, spinach, and turnips. While stores across the state offer these products for only about two cents a pound, hardly anyone notices.

January 20 - Upset about the dismal failure of its pro-health-food program, California imposes a hefty tax on all foods except asparagus, spinach, turnips, and tofu. In the end, however, hardy anyone notices.

February 5 - Illinois Gov. Rod Blagoyawhatever officially launches program to buy cheap prescription drugs from Illinois. "I know this violates FDA rules, but screw you, C. Everett Coop!" proclaims one spokesperson for the governor.

February 6 - Drug companies, fearing the collapse of their vast conspiracy to make Americans subsidize their research, development, and graft activities while folks in other countries pay almost nothing, act quickly to stop the imports. "Buying drugs from Canada will upset our entire balance sheet by allowing a growing number of people to avoid paying full price. That's unfair," one industry exec is quoted while talking on a cell phone from his luxury Swiss villa.

February 7 - Five large pharmaceutical companies announce that they will no longer ship any drugs whatsoever to Canada or Illinois, and threaten to cut off supplies to other states that don't immediately suck up.

February 10 - Pandemonium erupts in parts of Canada as pharmacies sell out of their remaining stock of absolutely vital life-or-death drugs, including Viagra.

February 12 - Public health officials officially claim that five Canadians have died so far from the so-called Evil American Drug Embargo.

February 14 - Canadian death toll reaches 13 as stockpiles of placebos are depleted at hospitals across the country.

February 16 - Democrats, desperate for a campaign issue and always looking for a way to expand government, propose plan to nationalize drug production and development. "We've got lawyers and we're not afraid to use them against the evil drug industry," says Senator Kennedy.

February 17 - Pharmaceutical companies, fearing the Doomsday Scenario of a hostile takeover by the Federal government, quickly roll over and play dead. Drugs start flowing into Canada again and the drug companies try to appease the American public by offering buy-one-get-one-free specials on Viagra and other medications.

February 22 - Gov. Bob "One Term" Holden pushes legislation that would close what he describes as "the baby loophole", which allows newborn babies to receive gifts without paying income tax. "Newborns, infants, and toddlers should be required to file income tax forms just like the rest of us," Holden says. "We've got to do everything we can to shore up the budget..."

March 2 - Voters in Georgia vote to replace their controversial Confederate flag design with a new state flag depicting an ultra-liberal being tarred, feathered, and run out of the state on a rail.

March 3 - The Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau, not wanting to admit that it wasted $42,000 on a no-shit-Sherlock marketing study, begins to distribute tourism brochures featuring the suggested slogan, "Where the river turns a thousand tales."

March 4 - Hoping to create "synergy" between the college and city, the SEMO Board of Regents vote to replace the offensive Indians and Otahkians team mascots with the politically-correct and marketing-enhanced name of "The Tale-Turners". The offical rally song will henceforth be changed to "Hooray Tale-Turners! Go Turn Some Tales!"

March 8 - SEMO ranked number one in Playboy Magazine's annual list of the Best Party Schools, easily beating SIU for the top honors. "As the home of the Tale-Turners, it's obvious SEMO is the number one place for turning tricks and getting some tail," Playboy writes.

March 12 - Going into full Damage Control mode, the SEMO marketing department quickly drops the whole Tale-Turner name after the college becomes the laughingstock of academia.

March 13 - Desperate for any kind of public-relations coup, SEMO seizes upon a new study in the Journal of Paranoid Doctors which shows that the college has a lower rate of student obesity than 85% of all four-year universities. "Come to Southeast for the education, stay for the health benefits of Cardiac Hill", proclaims one freshly printed brochure. "Remember your grandfather boasting that he walked uphill both ways to school? Well, Southeast is still like that!"

March 18 - Hoping to "level the playing field" between poor people and rich lawyers, Missouri Gov. Bob "One Term" Holden issues an executive order creating "Courts of Petty Pleas" throughout Missouri to dispense affordable justice. One advertisement proclaims, "Any preliminary injunction only $49.95! And for the next two weeks, receive a writ of habeus corpus at no additional charge!"

April 3 - Minor wind gust topples main span of the old Mississippi River bridge. MoDOT finally admits that the old bridge was held together with duct tape, bailing wire, and dog chains for the last decade. "On the bright side, we no longer have to spend any money on dynamite," says engineer.

April 16 - With the mad cow panic winding down, public health officials seize on another scare: Attention Surplus Hypoactivity Disorder (ASHD). This affliction, estimated by experts to affect nearly 80% of the population not already diagnosed with some sort of mental disorder, causes people to focus on mundane activities with extreme intensity, such as watching "World's Greatest TV Commercial Bloopers" or "Survivor: East St. Louis" for three straight hours without channel surfing even once. A new drug, "Distractalin", is rushed to market to help treat this tragic illness.

May 28 - After numerous delays and stall tactics by the plaintiffs, the Missouri Supreme Court finally rules on the concealed carry law. It's a mixed blessing: the letter of the law is perfectly acceptable, but it doesn't mention anything about concealed ammunition, which is still illegal. "You can have a concealed weapon with a permit, but you can't carry any ammunition," writes one justice. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board hails the decision as "a perfect compromise that will prevent people from protecting themselves, which is something only the police should worry about."

June 6 - A total of twelve cars use the Oak Ridge I-55 exit during the day, setting a new record since the interchange opened. A MoDOT spokesperson is unable to explain the sudden jump in traffic volume.

June 14 - The Bollinger County Historic Society erects a centennial commemorative plaque in front of the courthouse in Marble Hill which states, "On June 14, 1904, absolutely nothing of any consequence happened here."

June 29 - Vowing to "solve this damn problem once and for all", Illinois Gov. Rod Blagoyawhatever announces a plan to declare the city of Cairo an "unnatural disaster area", enabling residents to receive buyouts and move someplace else. "We have flood buyouts, so why not offer blight buyouts?" If successful, the program will be expanded to East St. Louis and portions of Chicago.

July 7 - Hoping to expand its global domination, McDonalds opens its first fast-food restaurant in Ethiopia. By using extremely cheap labor and slightly rancid beef, McDonalds is able to offer hamburgers at very, very low prices. Humanitarians hail the decision as "a solution to the African hunger problem", but thousands of American protestors protest at the new restaurant, arguing that the opening of McDonalds will usher in an era of extreme obesity throughout Ethopia. "It's better to starve to death than to become morbidly obese and suffer an increased risk of a heart attack," says one protestor.

July 26 - In a shocking development, George Bush is nominated as the Democrat candidate for President by an overwhelming number of delegates to the national convention in Bawstun, Massachusetts. The situation is summed up best by one Missouri delegate: "It's obvious that Bush is a closet Democrat. Almost all of his domestic policies during the last four years (federalized airport security, federalized senior citizen health care, federalized public schools, federalized faith-based charities) have been straight from the Democratic Party playbook. Bush has done more to expand government than every other President combined except FDR. Who needs Howard Dean?"

August 8 - The FBI reports that while crime rates are down nationwide, the rates of unsolved cases have skyrocketed during the last three years. Experts blame the problem on the popularity of the TV show "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation". One expert explains, "Today's criminals are smarter. They watch CSI and learn exactly what NOT to do when committing a murder. CBS should be required to pay for the damage to society created by this monster."

August 15 - The newly created Federal Department of Nagging People About Health Problems issues a statement commending Claw-Mart for its efforts on the frontlines of the War On Obesity. "By building larger and larger Supercenters with increasingly complicated and inconvenient layouts, Claw-Mart has created an environment where millions of shoppers must walk long distances to get anywhere, thereby fostering healthy exercise habits." In response, Claw-Mart launches a new slogan, "Claw-Mart: Everyday Low Prices And Everyday Shrinking Waistlines".

August 24 - California is now dealing with a different type of immigration problem: people from the other 49 states are moving to Southern California, adopting fake Latino names, and pretending to be illegal aliens to receive free health care and other government handouts.

September 3 - Police warn Cape Girardeans to be on the lookout for a ring of genealogy con artists. These swindlers operate by telling people that they are the direct descendant of somebody famous, such as Dolly Madison or James Garfield, and then offer to provide a (doctored) family tree showing the connection for only $99.95. "I really wanted to believe that I was related to Nathan Bedford Forrest," lamented one local victim.

September 12 - Group of Jackson businessmen open the first in a chain of W.W.J.E. (What Would Jesus Eat?) religiously-themed fast-food restaurants. With a slogan of "Would you like your soul saved with that?", the restaurant promises to include spiritual enlightenment with each meal. Specials include the Bethlehem Burger and the John 3:16 Combo Meal.

September 18 - The War On Obesity intensifies when Federal agents raid the headquarters of several fast-food chains looking for evidence that the companies have conspired to add "secret sauces" to their burgers which make them more addictive. No hard evidence of a conspiracy is found, but several cash-strapped state governments salivate at the possibility of suing the evil fast-food industry and receiving large cash settlements that would be used on everything except health care.

October 2 - With support growing on both the Left and Eight Coasts for legalizing gay marriages, a local church group votes to support marriages between first cousins. "If this country is already going to hell in a handbasket, we might as well go in style," says one church leader just before proposing to his bodaciously good-looking cousin Annabelle.

October 20 - Within one victory of reaching the World Series, the Chicago Cubs are thwarted again, this time by a local celebrity who accidentally knocks out the starting catcher with a wild ceremonial first pitch. Things go downhill from there, culminating in a game-losing error made by Cletis Buckner, a relative of Bill Buckner and a recent call-up from Triple-A. "I knew we shouldn't have signed that kid," says a dejected Dusty Baker. "That family is cursed." (And so is your team, Dusty.)

October 23 - The Berkeley University Board of Regents bans use of the phrase "political correctness" from its campus, arguing that the term is offensive because it suggests that some political and socioeconomic groups possess more "correctness" than others. "We cannot have people thinking that some groups are superior to others because they happen to be endowed with a greater level of enlightenment," says one regent. "In effect, political correctness is itself politically incorrect."

October 26 - Student at Cape Central High holds a classroom hostage after sneaking a pair of nail clippers into the building. At least, that's what a S.W.A.T. team reported after securing the school. The student, however, said she accidentally left the nail clippers in her backpack and was willing to hand them over, until her paranoid teacher went berserk and ran through the halls screaming that the school was under attack by nail-clipper-wielding terrorists.

While video survelliance tapes support the student's version of events, the administration decides not to take any chances and immediately sentences the girl to the educational equivalent of the death penalty -- expulsion from Central and a permantly blacklisting from all public and private schools, even including clown schools.

November 2 - All eyes are on Florida during the first Presidential election since 2000, and Floridians aren't about to disappoint. Chaos ensues after a so-called "clerical error" causes George W. Bush to be listed as the "Nazi Party" candidate on the ballots in several counties.

November 2 - George W. Bush (R) edges out George W. Bush (D) for the Presidency with a margin of only 3 electoral votes. Democrats demand a recount.

November 3 - In response to Florida's seeming inability to hold an election without widespread problems, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro unveils what he calls the "perfect" election system. Under the Cuban System, each voting booth is equipped with a single lever and a cyanide capsule dispenser. The instructions say in Spanish, "If you wish to vote for Fidel Castro for President of Cuba, pull the lever once. If you do not wish to vote for Fidel Castro, ingest one cyanide tablet after pulling the lever once."

"Thanks to this system, we have never had to deal with recounts, hanging chads, or disenfrancished minorities," Castro boasts on state-run TV. "The U.S., and Florida in particular, should consider adopting such a system."

November 13 - Succumbing to growing pressure from health nuts to vigorously fight the War On Obesity, Congress passes a total ban on all foods that taste good. "Scientists have clearly proven that anything with a pleasant taste is guaranteed to clog your arteries," says one supporter of the ban. "By only allowing people to eat bland food, we can cut the nation's health care costs by 75% within three years." In the end, however, health care costs actually increase substantially to provide funding for all of the suicide counselors brought in to comfort the millions of people who claim they no longer have any will to live.

November 29 - In preparations for the busy holiday season, several Claw-Mart marketing executives spearhead a new advertising campaign centered around the slogan, "Claw-Mart: Everyday Charge What The Hell We Want Prices". The plan, however, is a catastrophic failure and the execs are fired for "sheer incompetence".

December 13 - On the one year anniversary of the opening of the Emerson Bridge, the Cape Girardeau Downtown Merchants Association admits that the new bridge has not had the positive impact on downtown that was initially predicted. "With the old bridge, people bypassed downtown at 25 mph. Now they can bypass downtown at 45 mph," says one store owner who recently decided to convert his business into yet another tavern. "Adult entertainment venues are the only things thriving in downtown."

December 31 - After not receiving one red cent of benefits from the union during 2004, one state worker files a lawsuit to get his union fair-share fees back. "Holden gave us a pay cut by forcing us to pay money to a union we don't belong to. And what have I received in return? Absolutely nothing except higher medical deductibles. I demand a refund for what is obviously a defective product, and I'm going to get it..."

December 31 - Republicans remain in charge of Congress and the White House for another year and despite dire predictions, the world still has not shown any signs of ending.