Laughter is the best medicine: Dave Barry recalls a year to forget

by WorldTribune Staff, January 16, 2019

The year 2018 was one messed up 365 days, humor columnist Dave Barry noted. The good news, at least it wasn’t a leap year.

“What made this year so awful?” Barry asked in his 2018 year in review column for McClatchy Newspapers.

The Russians, not considered a problem as ‘Soviets’, continued to dominate the news cycle for a 2nd straight year.

“We could list many factors, including natural disasters, man-made atrocities, the utter depravity of our national political discourse and the loss of Aretha Franklin. Instead we’ll cite one event that, while minor, epitomizes 2018: the debut of ‘Dr. Pimple Popper.’ This is a cable-TV reality show featuring high-definition slo-mo closeup videos of a California dermatologist performing seriously disgusting procedures on individuals with zits the size of mature cantaloupes. You might ask, ‘Who on Earth would voluntarily watch that?’ The answer, in 2018, was: MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. That is the state of our culture.”

Barry continued: “As you recall, we, as a nation, spent all of 2017 obsessing over 2016: the election, the Russians, the emails, the Mueller probe, the Russians, the Russians, the Russians. … That was all we heard about, day after soul-crushing day, for the entire year.

“So when 2018 finally dawned, we were desperately hoping for change. It was a new year, a chance for the nation to break out of the endless, pointless barrage of charges and countercharges, to move past the vicious, hate-filled hyperpartisan spew of name-calling and petty point-scoring, to end the 24/7 cycle of media hysteria, to look forward and begin to tackle the many critical issues facing the nation, the most important of which turned out to be …

“… the 2016 election.

“Yes. We could not escape it. We were like Bill Murray in ‘Groundhog Day,’ except that when our clock-radio went off, instead of Sonny and Cher singing ‘I Got You Babe,’ we awoke to still MORE talk of Russians … and freakouts by cable-TV panelists predicting that – forget about the previous 300 times they made the same prediction – THIS time impeachment was IMMINENT, PEOPLE. IMMINENT!! Meet the new year: same as the old year.”

“At some point during 2018, Barry wrote, “normal, non-Beltway-dwelling Americans simply stopped paying attention to current events. Every now and then we’d tune in to a cable-TV news show see what kinds of issues our nation’s elite political/media class was grappling with, and we’d see a headline focused on Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump. That was when ‘Dr. Pimple Popper’ started to look pretty good.”

Following are excerpts from Barry’s 2018 year in review:


North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un states that he has a nuclear-missile launch button on his desk. This leaves U.S. Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump with no viable military option but to fire up his Random Capitalizer App and tweet “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his,” thereby leaving no doubt as to which leader is more secure regarding the size of his button.

During an Oval Office meeting on immigration reform, the president referred to some poorer nations as “(expletive)holes.” This upsets many people, especially the frowny panelpersons of CNN, who find the word “(expletive)hole” so deeply offensive that they repeat it roughly 15 times per hour for a solid week.

In youth fads, the American Association of Poison Control Centers continues to receive reports of young people suffering ill effects from eating Tide detergent pods. Asked to explain why young people would persist in eating something that tastes terrible and makes them sick, a spokesperson for the centers says “As far as we can determine, it’s because they’re stupid.”


With yet another government shutdown looming, Congress, whose irresponsible spending practices have put the nation on the road to fiscal disaster, faces a choice. It can either: 1. Continue to spend huge amounts of money that we don’t have, or 2. Not. After much late-night drama, Congress agrees on a compromise deal under which it will continue to spend huge amounts of money that we don’t have. This display of leadership solves the budget problem permanently until March, when Congress will once again tackle the complex problem of government spending.

In sports, the 2018 Winter Olympic games get under way in PyeongChang, South Korea, with a historic opening ceremony highlighted by the release of 25 doves, which are immediately shot down and consumed by the North Korean men’s biathlon team. In domestic sports, the Eagles defeat the Patriots to win their first Super Bowl, and huge crowds of joyous Philadelphia fans celebrate by destroying downtown Boston. No, that would actually make sense. In fact the Philadelphia fans spend the night destroying their own city, then head home for a hearty breakfast of Tide Pods.


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learns that President Trump has fired him when, during an official visit to Africa, he is ejected from his State Department plane at 35,000 feet. No, seriously, Tillerson learns of his firing via a presidential tweet, which says: “Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service!” So midair ejection would actually have been more dignified.

Congress averts yet another government shutdown by passing, with President Trump signing, a bill under which the government will – prepare to be shocked – spend a truly insane amount of money that it does not have. With the spending problem addressed, Washington then turns to more pressing matters, specifically the Stormy Daniels crisis, which escalates when Ms. Daniels files a lawsuit to invalidate her nondisclosure agreement on the grounds that Trump didn’t sign it. This issue dominates the news cycle, especially on CNN, which puts Ms. Daniel’s extremely outgoing lawyer, Michael Avenatti, on every CNN news program and also handles weather and sports updates.


When the abandoned Chinese space station Tiangong-1, which has been anxiously watched by scientists as its orbit decayed, plunges back to earth and, in a worst-case outcome, fails to land on attorney Michael Avenatti, thus enabling him to continue appearing on CNN more often than the Geico Gecko.

Abroad, the big news is a historic summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-In and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. In what observers see as a major breakthrough, Kim agrees to sign a letter of agreement explicitly acknowledging, for the first time, that he has exactly the same hairstyle as Bert, of Bert and Ernie.


The biggest story by far is the wedding of American ex-actress Meghan Markle to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, who is in the direct line of succession to the British throne behind Prince Louis of Cambridge, who is behind Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, who is behind Prince George of Cambridge, who is behind Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, who is behind Charles, Prince of Wales, who is 70 but any year now could get his shot at becoming the anachronistic ceremonial figurehead of one of the world’s most second-rate powers. With the stakes so high, the media giddiness level soars to Defcon 1.

In other international developments, hopes for a summit meeting between Kim Jong-Un and President Trump soar when North Korea releases three American prisoners, only to be dashed when North Korea refuses to accept, in exchange, Stormy Daniels. Later in the month hopes soar again when North Korea announces that, as a good-faith gesture, it has destroyed its Punggye-ri nuclear test facility, only to be dashed again when satellite imagery of the explosion reveals that what the rogue nation actually blew up was a 2006 Hyundai Sonata with what a U.S. intelligence source describes as “really bald tires.”

Meanwhile Trump announces that the U.S. will withdraw from the 2015 multi-nation nuclear deal with Iran on the grounds that (1) it is deeply flawed, and (2) he does not own any golf courses there.


Trump flies to Singapore for the on-again, off-again, now on-again historic summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. This meeting is more productive, ending with the two leaders signing a letter of agreement in which North Korea promises to think seriously about denuclearizing, in exchange for the formula for pumpkin spice latte.

In other domestic news, Sen. Chuck “The Human Bandwagon” Schumer, citing studies showing that every living American adult except Mitt Romney has tried pot, introduces a bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and, quote, “create a massive bureaucracy tasked with wasting millions of dollars on things like bong-safety regulations.” The legislation would also create a trust fund under which a percentage of the federal tax revenue raised from marijuana sales would be set aside specifically to purchase Cheez-Its.


The president nominates Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Accepting the nomination, Kavanaugh says: “If confirmed by the Senate, I pledge to give full and fair consideration to every case brought before me. Also every keg.” For their part, Senate Democrats release a statement promising to “consider Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications in good faith and with open minds,” adding, “obviously we are lying.”

In financial news, Facebook stock drops more than $100 billion in a single day — the greatest loss in stock-market history — after the company releases a quarterly report revealing that many people have trouble distinguishing between the “wow” emoji and the “sad” emoji. Despite this setback Facebook is still worth way more than General Motors and most other American companies that make actual things.


In a coordinated nationwide response to Trump’s repeated attacks on the press, sternly worded editorials rebuking the president are published in more than 300 newspapers, with a combined editorial-page readership estimated at nearly 14 people. For his part, CNN’s Jim Acosta courageously confronts White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders over this issue, despite the very real risk that he will have to feature himself prominently in his report on this harrowing incident.

In business news, Apple becomes the first publicly traded U.S. company to be worth $1 trillion, thanks to its shrewd business model of constantly coming out with costly new products that require costly chargers that are completely different from all the costly Apple chargers you already have, and sometimes spontaneously mutate overnight in such a way as to require even newer and costlier Apple chargers.


The nation watches, riveted, for more than seven hours as Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, deliver emotional testimony, at the end of which the nation has learned the following facts: 1. The senators have no idea what, if anything, actually happened. 2. Nor do they care. 3. The truth is utterly irrelevant to them. 4. They all decided long ago how they were going to vote, based entirely on political calculations. 5. Given exactly the same testimony but different political circumstances, every single senator would passionately espouse the position diametrically opposite the one he or she is passionately espousing now. 6. Brett Kavanaugh really likes beer.


The Senate approves the Kavanaugh nomination by a vote of 50-48, with Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski voting “present” and Chuck Schumer voting “extra cheese.”


U.S. troops head for the border, having been ordered there by the president, but only after he was informed by his military advisers that the Rio Grande is too shallow for aircraft carriers. For their part, the Democrats appeal to voters with a three-pronged message: Prong One: The Democrats are the party of fairness, diversity and inclusion. Prong Two: Anybody who disagrees with the Democrats about anything is Hitler. Prong Three: But more racist.

The voters have given the Democrats control of the House, while leaving the Republicans in control of the Senate, thereby guaranteeing that for the next two years Congress will accomplish nothing, which may well be what the voters intended.

As Thanksgiving approaches, two turkeys – named Peas and Carrots – are summoned to the White House, where the president, in keeping with a lighthearted Washington tradition, appoints them to high-level posts in the Justice Department. Two days later he fires Peas over what insiders describe as “policy differences.” Within minutes Peas is hired as a political analyst by MSNBC.


Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping reach an agreement under which Trump will hold off on imposing $200 billion in new tariffs on Chinese goods, in return for which China will purchase a new Chevy Volt, nearly doubling that vehicle’s annual worldwide sales. In response, the Dow soars, only to plunge again when financial analysts learn that China declined the premium-floor-mat option.

Meanwhile in a devastating blow to the U.S. humor industry, Michael Avenatti announces that he will not run for president. His departure narrows the potential Democratic field down to pretty much every Democratic politician ever, including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, somebody called “Beto” and the late Hubert Humphrey, all of whom believe Trump will be vulnerable in 2020, as confidently predicted by the many expert political observers who also confidently predicted Hillary Clinton’s presidency.

Reliable rumors swirling around Washington say that special counsel Robert Mueller is about to do some major thing that, while not specified in the rumors, will definitely mean the downfall of Trump and THIS TIME IT IS REALLY HAPPENING, PEOPLE. In anticipation of this event, CNN unveils a special panelist desk that is the length of a regulation basketball court, providing the capability to have an unprecedented 170 panelists sitting side-by-side expressing outrage simultaneously, and bringing CNN one step closer to the day when it has more panelists than actual viewers.

See Barry’s full year in review here

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