The Year That Was 

Month by month, 2003 offered surprises, large and small.

In his January State of the Union address, President Bush says that America can't take the chance that Saddam Hussein is hiding weapons of mass destruction. Saddam, he says, has missed "his final chance" and has recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. War, the president says, is the only way to keep America safe.

In North Korea, dictator Kim Jong Il kicks U.N. weapons inspectors out of his country and announces plans to begin manufacturing weapons-grade plutonium. Diplomacy, the president says, is all that's necessary to keep America safe.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the Raelian cult announces that they have created a human clone. Though evidence of such was not forthcoming, the Raelians soon prove their ability to clone massive amounts of spam e-mail.

In February, Secretary of State Colin Powell tells the U.N. that there is "irrefutable and undeniable" evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. In 600 cities around the world, six million people protest the now-inevitable war.

Later that month, 27 million people watch a television film about Michael Jackson.

In March, the U.S. launches its "shock and awe" bombing campaign against Iraq. France, Germany, and Russia refuse to support the U.S. war effort. Congress invents "freedom fries" in retaliation.

Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart is found, thereby launching 1,000 hours of cable programming.

In April, U.S. and British troops invade Baghdad and help topple a 40-foot statue of Saddam. Looting is rampant. "Freedom's untidy," says Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Private Jessica Lynch is rescued in a "daring raid," thereby launching an untidy race to win movie rights to her story.

On May 1st, the president lands on an aircraft carrier in San Diego and declares "major combat operations" have ended in Iraq.

SARS, the disease that sparked a worldwide panic, subsides, having killed 400 people -- worldwide. Professional moralist William Bennett confesses that he has lost $8 million in slot machines.

In June, the president signs a $350 billion tax cut and says Americans will have "more of their money to spend."

Hillary Clinton's autobiography makes back its $8 million advance in one week. William Bennett could not be reached for comment. Strom Thurmond dies at age 100.

Uday and Qusay Hussein are killed by U.S. troops in July. Saddam releases an audiotape calling for a jihad. The president responds diplomatically by saying, "Bring 'em on." More than 100 Americans have been killed in combat.

Kobe Bryant is charged with rape, thereby launching 1,000 hours of cable programming. Strom Thurmond's staff notices he is dead.

In August, Arnold Schwarzenegger anounces his candidacy for governor of California on The Tonight Show, thereby launching the political careers of 200 other nutballs, including Larry Flynt, Gallagher, Gary Coleman, and a porn star with giant breasts. Schwarzenegger is accused of being a "serial groper." His porn-star opponent says she is a "serial gropee."

In September, the president requests and receives $87 billion from Congress to pay for the continued occupation of Iraq. Suicide bombs plague the country. The American death toll rises to 200.

In the U.S., Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez release a career-suicide bomb called Gigli. After seeing the film, magician David Blaine locks himself in a plastic box in London for 44 days.

In October, Schwarzenegger "handily" wins the California governorship. Rush Limbaugh checks into a rehab center to shake an addiction to pain-killers. Magician Roy Horn checks into a hospital to shake his addiction to white tigers.

November is the deadliest month of the Iraq war. More than 300 American soldiers have died so far. A memo from Rumsfeld saying the country faces a "long, hard slog" is leaked to the press.

Britain's Prince Charles denies rumors that he has had his own long, hard slog with a male servant.

The president delivers a fake turkey to selected troops in Iraq in a clandestine, two-hour Thanksgiving visit.

In December, Bush signs a $400 billion drug-benefit law. Stocks rise precipitously, especially pharmaceuticals. Limbaugh applauds a "recovering" economy.

Strom Thurmond's black daughter announces her existence. Staff turns Thurmond over in his grave.

Saddam Hussein is captured hiding in a hole in the ground. The good news is that he's able to make his dental appointment.

Top that, 2004.

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