Dave Barry's History of the Millennium (So Far)

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Authors: Dave Barry
market goes lower.
    SECOND EXPERT: I agree, Bob. If the market does not go any lower, then this is the bottom. But by the same token, if the market DOES go lower, then this is not the bottom. We can say whatever we want and people will take us seriously, because we’re on TV and we’re wearing suits.
    FIRST EXPERT: I like to say “bottom,” Bill. Bottom bottom bottom.
    SECOND EXPERT: Ha-ha! But seriously, Bob, if the market goes higher from here, then we can say this is…
    And so on, day after wary day. We became even warier when we found out that some large corporations had essentially the same business ethics as Bonnie and Clyde. It got so bad that we even became wary of Martha Stewart, who hit her own personal bottom (we are speaking figuratively) during a June appearance on the CBS early-morning show. Martha was trying to chop some cabbage for a salad, and the show’s host, Jane Clayson, kept pestering her about her alleged insider trading, and finally Martha emitted what was probably the most poignant quote from all of 2002: “I want to focus on my salad.”
    In a way, Martha was speaking for the entire nation. We all wanted very much to focus on our salad in 2002. But it was impossible with so many things making us wary. In addition to being wary of terrorism and economic uncertainty, we were wary that our children would be abducted, that a sniper would shoot us, that Saddam Hussein would attack us, or that we would attack him. We were wary of asteroids, wary of wildfires, wary of floods, wary that American Idol was fixed, wary of fast food, wary of global warming, wary of Florida elections, wary of professional baseball, wary of the West Nile virus, wary that at any moment, some evil, vicious, sick, twisted mind with no regard for the norms of human decency would decide to make a sequel to Scooby-Doo.
    But, somehow, one wary day at a time, we got through 2002. Now we are poised to enter a new year, which, according to Wall Street analysts, will be 2003, so we would not bet on it. But before we move ahead to wherever we’re going, let us take one last, wary look back at the year just completed, starting with…
    â€¦which begins on a hopeful note in Europe, as the nations of the European Union replace their individual currencies with the new “euro,” which is expected to boost the European economy by tricking clueless American tourists—who were just starting to figure out the old currencies—into leaving unintentionally gigantic tips. The euro is an immediate success in Paris, where an elderly Ohio couple orders two coffees at a Paris café and discovers, by the time they have settled the bill, that the waiter now owns their house.
    But the economic news is not so good in the United States, where President George W. Bush and the Congress discover that the federal budget surplus, which only moments earlier had been trillions of dollars, is now…missing! Everybody looks high and low for it, but the darned thing is just GONE. Iraq is suspected.
    In other executive action, the nation gets a scare when President Bush chokes on a pretzel, which is immediately wrestled to the floor by Secret Service agents. The president is unconscious for about thirty seconds, during which time Vice President Cheney appoints 173 federal judges.
    But the big domestic issue is Homeland Insecurity, which is most noticeable at airports, where the Department of Transportation, having determined that every single 9/11 hijacker was a young male from a Middle Eastern country, has implemented a shrewd policy of hassling randomly selected elderly women.

    Meanwhile, al-Qaeda fighters captured in Afghanistan are flown to the U.S. Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for detainment. This outrages various perpetually outraged human rights organizations, which issue a statement charging that the prisoners are being kept under inhumane conditions, including “a lack of even the

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