Shock and Awful: A Look Back at 2003

What a soul-crushing, hope-strangling time to be alive.

If you were part of a flash mob, a blogger or a Halliburton executive, 2003 was an absolute banner year for you. For everyone else, it was 12 months of a steady turd rain.

It feels like God has been running a three-card monte game on his peeps. Everything we believe in turns out to be a sham, a cheap hustle, even (dare I say it) a lie. War is security, death is progress and those fist-sized tumors erupting on your neck just prove how healthy you are.

How did everything get so twisted? Bill Bennett is a raging slot addict and Rush Limbaugh gobbles pills like he's lead singer for the Stone Temple Pilots. Sammy Sosa's bat is corked, Barry Bonds' biceps are juiced and you don't have to actually understand the law to be a judge in Alabama. People who ate green onions died, but tragically, David Blaine did not. Tigers make excellent house pets as long as you don't mind finding chunks of yourself in their litter box. And even Paris Hilton has a bit of a wild streak. Who knew?

The year opened on a jittery note. While giving his State of the Union speech from the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in the shadow of a "Mission Activated" banner and flanked by bloody heads of anti-war protesters mounted on spikes, President Bush reiterated his credentials as a peaceful man. It was during the speech that Bush uttered those controversial 16 words: "With Osama missing and the economy tanking, my only shot at reelection is invading Iraq. Yee-haw!"

Thus on the night of the Oscars, a thoroughly international coalition composed of America, Great Britain, Gondor, Freedonia, Lillyput and the Island of Dr. Moreau tapped a keg of whoop-ass on the cradle of civilization.

At first, the war went swimmingly. The air assault began just before the Best Sound Editing awards and by the time Adrian Brody was freedom-kissing Halle Berry, troops had entered Baghdad, pulled down a statue of Saddam and a dozen Starbucks were open for business.

No weapons of mass destruction were immediately found in Iraq, leading many in the administration to suspect they had been smuggled out of the country by the Dixie Chicks.

Meanwhile, back in America, Dick Smothers Jr. launched his porn career while Madonna took a break from hers to publish children's books. The Material Girl put her own spin on existing classics with such titles as Goldilocks and the Three Backup Dancers, Bi-Curious George, The Vibrator on Pooh's Nightstand and The Putting Out Tree.

Steve Case resigned as chairman of AOL Time Warner. Case said he wanted to spend more time with his family, possibly merging them with a larger, more established family, then running them both into the ground.

Other relationships that once seemed solid also crumbled. The Buttafucos divorced. Liza Minnelli and David Gest went splitsville. Yet Kobe Bryant and his wife stayed together. Despite the rape charges against him, their relationship is built on a rock. A $4 million rock the size of a Doberman testicle that Mrs. Bryant currently sports on her finger.

Virtues nazi Bill Bennett admitted that he liked to eat breakfast off a hooker's chest after particularly cruel slot benders. But he maintained that he is not a hypocrite because nowhere in his moral scoldings did he ever condemn using women as Fiestaware.

Stepping in to fill the morality void, Wal-Mart announced it would conceal the covers of such scandalous magazines as Redbook and Glamour.

"We are afraid our clientele might be offended by the revealing photos," said a statement released by the retail behemoth. "Of course there are some who would say that glimpsing Catherine Zeta Jones in a strapless evening gown isn't as offensive as watching some manatee wearing a tube top and a pair of Daisy Dukes that are being chewed up by her ravenous assfat as she waddles through housewares, popping out her dentures in a playful manner to try and quiet her screaming brood of waterheads. But at the present time we have no plans to try and conceal our customers."

Outdoor enthusiast Aaron Ralston found himself trapped and in horrible pain. Yet he summoned up incredible courage, and using only a dull pocketknife, cut off his own arm to escape a screening of Gigli.

The situation in Iraq continued to improve through the summer and was upgraded from morass to quagmire. The Bush administration pointed to the increasing number and effectiveness of attacks against coalition forces as proof that "the Viet Cong -- er, insurgents are on the run." In a fair and open bidding process, lucrative reconstruction contracts were won by Halliburton who edged out Enron, Leggo and Larry, Daryl and Daryl from the old Newhart show.

At the president's urging Congress passed an $87 billion aid package for Iraq. Included were necessary items like better equipment for the military, and morale boosters like the "Mission Accomplished" coffee mugs given to every wounded soldier. Those lucky enough to lose one or more limbs receive a commemorative tote bag made of genuine canvas and inscribed with the words "Bring 'Em On."

To remind Americans how much safer the world is under his and the president's watch, a hologram of Dick Cheney appeared on Sunday talk shows. It was beamed via satellite from his secret underground fortress.

A leaked memo caused Donald Rumsfeld much embarrassment when it was revealed that Condoleeza Rice was SO not attracted to him and that she had no interest in hooking up at the mall later.

Allegations of inappropriate behavior threatened to derail Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign in the race for California governor. But days before the election, the filmstar issued a public apology. "I apologize to women, who because they were ovulating and their breasts were tender, did not enjoy it when I tuned their nipples like radio dials before we were introduced. And I apologize to women who mistakenly thought the penis is a muscle and were disappointed to discover mine is only slightly larger than average when I placed it on their leg during church."

Rush Limbaugh admitted he was addicted to "hillbilly heroin." Acting on a tip from his maid/drug mule, the National Enquirer filmed the conservative pundit behind the barn, tying his arm off with baling wire then shooting up with a corncob syringe.

Deciding that prison wasn't right for a man of his carriage, Limbaugh entered a drug rehab program where he lost a fortune betting on silverfish races with Courtney Love and eventually became Andy Dick's cigarette bitch.

Through the application of biotechnology and genetic tracking, pop star Jessica Simpson was able to pinpoint subtle molecular differences between tuna and chicken. Scientists hailed the discovery as a breakthrough in both sandwich and salad preparation.

In a stunning development that could have national implications, a Massachusetts court ruled that metrosexuals have a right to marry.

Gay allegations swirled around Prince Charles when an aide claimed to witness the prince in a blatantly homosexual act. The aide walked in and caught the prince proposing to Liza Minnelli.

Montecore was branded the Yoko Ono of white tigers after breaking up Siegfried and Roy. A rash of pregnancies followed a blackout on the East Coast. The most popular baby name is expected to be Bennifer. Michael Jackson was dragged from Neverland in handcuffs. And not the Fisher Price ones he prefers.

And President Bush secured a political victory when Congress passed sweeping Medicare reform legislation that will provide seniors with access and a drastic discount for soylent green.

Now we can rest easy because at last our future is secure.

Mission Auld Lang Syne.

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