Author and Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry nails it yet again with another hilarious annual year in review. A lot happened in 2015 and not everything is represented, including the San Bernardino attack. But at any rate, it is a humorous way to lack back on a year that, in a lot of ways, wasn't a great one for America.
Barry truly encapsulated his retrospective with his subtitle, "The sad thing is, we're not making this up!"
In his unique style, Barry hits on politics and politicians, journalists and news outlets, climate hypocrisy and the insistence by the federal government that all is well with Islamic terrorism.
Read the full column here at The Washington Post. A few highlights follow.
On Islamic terrorism:
In Paris, 1.5 million people march in a solidarity rally following the horrific terrorist attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Eyebrows are raised when not a single top U.S. official attends, but several days later, Secretary of State John F. 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.
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.
As February draws to a close, 5,000 Islamic State troops land in Mexico and march north. They are able to reach Cleveland unnoticed because the entire U.S. population is heatedly arguing over the color of a picture of a dress on the Internet.
In Garland, Tex., two armed men are gunned down by police after they open fire on a security guard outside an exhibit of Muhammad 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 Captain and Tennille to the scene, where they perform a powerful version of “Muskrat Love.”
... 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 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, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says, quote, “Death to America,” but he says it in what U.S. negotiators describe as “a softer tone.”
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 other journalism news, Rolling Stone apologizes for a discredited story about an alleged rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house and announces that it has disciplined its lead fact-checker, Brian Williams.
In political news, the New York Times runs the following actual headline: “Hillary Clinton to Show More Humor and Heart, Aides Say.” 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 Clinton “directly engage selected voters in banter.”
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.
On climate change and global warming:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that, globally, July was the hottest month 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.
[W]hen, 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.”
On everybody being offended and oh, yeah, Al Sharpton:
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.
[T]here 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 more than 250 arrests and extensive property damage. The Rev. Al Sharpton rushes to the scene but is unable to prevent things from eventually calming down.
And finally, politics:
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.
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 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 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.
After much agonizing, Vice President 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.”
On the political front, the big story is Donald Trump, who declares his candidacy for president and lays out a bold, far-reaching vision for America consisting of whatever thought is flitting through his mind at that particular moment. Trump is deemed to have no chance by veteran Washington-based political experts with vast knowledge of what all the other veteran Washington-based political experts think. Also declaring his candidacy, and predicted by the experts to do far better, is Jeb Bush, whose official campaign slogan is: “Jeb! — The Exclamation Mark Denotes Enthusiasm.”
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.