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The Daze of 1992 Dave Barry's Year-End Rap

THE BALTIMORE SUN

JANUARY

1 -- In the White House, George Bush, during a high-level discussion of possible U.S. responses to a strike by cork harvesters in Portugal, glances out the Oval Office window and notices that the darned U.S. economy is still in trouble. He vows to write a stern note to his economic advisers, Wayne and Garth. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton -- a virtual unknown on the national scene, despite the fact that he has been governor of Arkansas since he was 17 -- arrives in New Hampshire with a truck containing 957 separate eight-point policies.

3 -- In an unprecedented broadcasting development, an entire hour passes during which there is not one single commercial featuring Michael Jordan. The Federal Communications Commission vows to investigate.

7 -- New York Gov. Mario Cuomo calls a news conference to announce that, just in case anybody forgot, he has definitely ruled himself out of the presidential race.

8 -- President Bush flies to Japan accompanied by 237 high-level aides, 322 leading U.S. business executives, 517 journalists, 856 security personnel, the first lady, 26 grandchildren and both White House dogs. Left behind, tragically, is the black briefcase containing the presidential Pepto-Bismol.

10 -- In Tokyo, President Bush scores an economic coup as the Japanese government, under intense pressure to open its doors to U.S. imports, agrees to purchase a 1992 Chevrolet Caprice. At a formal dinner hosted by the prime minister, the president formalizes the agreement by performing the ceremonial Ralph of Friendship.

22 -- The New Hampshire primary campaign is thrown into an uproar when the major news media, having vowed to focus on the Issues, give extensive coverage to allegations by Gennifer Flowers in a supermarket tabloid that, over a 12-year period, she and Bill Clinton repeatedly met in secret to discuss his program for national health insurance.

26 -- In the most surprising Super Bowl finish in the game's 27-year history, the Washington Redskins and the Buffalo Bills agree to stop playing in the third quarter so they can watch Bill and Hillary Clinton discuss their marriage on "60 Minutes."

FEBRUARY

1 -- In sports, heavyweight rocket scientist Mike Tyson KO's himself.

10 -- Commemorating the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage, authentic reproductions of the sailing ships Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria set out for the "New World." Alex Haley returns to his "Roots."

11 -- In New Hampshire, Bill Clinton's character comes under further scrutiny when the news media obtain a 1969 photograph showing him reporting for a draft physical wearing a dress. Immediately a new surprise front-runner emerges in the form of former U.S. senator and suspected pod person Paul E. Tsongas.

12 -- The Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria sail off the edge of the Earth.

17 -- In Milwaukee, Jeffrey Dahmer is sentenced to life in prison with no refrigerator privileges.

20 -- Appearing on "Larry King Live," H. Ross Perot announces that if his supporters put him on the ballot in all 50 states, he will have them all investigated.

21 -- In Winter Olympics action, NBC elects to simply rebroadcast videotapes of the luge and bobsled events from 1976, since nobody can tell the difference.

25 -- The U.S. Postal Service, bored with trying to deliver the actual mail, announces a plan to spend millions of taxpayer dollars deciding which face to put on the Elvis stamp.

28 -- The troubled airline industry enters the Betty Ford Clinic.

MARCH

2 -- Saddam Hussein appears on "Larry King Live."

3 -- Business and academic professionals around the world are gripped by panic following dire warnings from numerous experts that tens of thousands of computers could be infected with the dread Michelangelo virus, set to strike on March 6.

6 -- As predicted, the dread Michelangelo virus erupts, wreaking untold havoc on an estimated one computer belonging to Rose Deegle of Rochester, N.Y.

8 -- Michelangelo appears on "Larry King Live."

9 -- True item: Led by the surgeon general, U.S. doctors call on R. J. Reynolds to dump the "Old Joe" cartoon camel as a symbol for Camel cigarettes, on the grounds that it has great appeal to children.

14 -- In a heartwarming display of concern for the health of the young, R. J. Reynolds announces that it will dump "Old Joe," and that Camels will henceforth be represented by "Old Kermit the Frog."

17 -- A ray of sunshine penetrates the gloomy national mood as Americans delight to a hilarious new nightly TV comedy, "Congresspersons Explain Why They Were Not Responsible for Overdrawing Their Own Personal Checking Accounts as Many as Several Hundred Times in One Year."

18 -- Convicted tax felon and Hotel Queen Leona Helmsley is sentenced to prison. Concerned about the pacing of its games, the National Football League decides to eliminate the "instant replay" after a study shows that seven games from the 1991 season are still going on.

25 -- In a major intelligence coup, the U.S. government learns that it might not need to have 300,000 troops defending West Germany from East Germany, because these are now the same country.

29 -- Paul Tsongas drops out of the Democratic race and immediately surges ahead in the polls.

30 -- Bill Clinton, wooing the weenie vote, says he tried marijuana, but was unable to inhale.

APRIL

1 -- Members of the U.S. House of Representatives vote to stop getting themselves re-elected by spending billions of taxpayer dollars on unnecessary weapons and military bases and moron projects for purposes such as asparagus research. April fool.

2 -- True item: Scientists announce the discovery of a massive, 1,500-year-old fungus in Michigan. It covers at least 37 acres, making it the largest living thing on Earth, after Rush Limbaugh. In New York, John Gotti is convicted on all 13 counts of racketeering and murder; the judge, in an unusual sentence, orders him "to be more careful next time."

6 -- True item: The ceremonial first pitch of the 1992 baseball season, thrown by President Bush in Baltimore's new stadium, lands in the dirt. Isaac Asimov returns to his Foundation.

10 -- Convicted savings-and-loan magnate Charles Keating is sentenced to 10 years in prison, but works out a deal wherein he will actually serve only 10 days of his own time, and use depositors' time for the rest of the sentence.

13 -- Ross Perot announces that the country is all messed up, but that he has ordered a plan to fix everything and will reveal it just as soon as he takes delivery. His polls soar.

14 -- Bill Clinton's political strategists, concerned that Hillary could be hurting the campaign by appearing to harbor opinions, enroll her in the Donna Reed Housewife Rehabilitation Clinic, where she is confined to the much-feared Heloise Unit.

15 -- True item: President and Mrs. Bush's tax returns are made public, revealing that in 1991 the president made $2,718 in royalties for his autobiography, whereas first dog Millie made $889,176 for hers.

21 -- National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientists, using sophisticated computer analysis of photographs obtained from the Hubble Space Telescope, report that there is a dead bug on the lens.

25 -- Ross Perot announces that his plan to fix the country up has been delayed because some parts had to be back-ordered, but it should arrive "within a couple of weeks." His polls soar.

29 -- Riots erupt in Los Angeles after residents obtain an advance copy of the "Murphy Brown" script in which she becomes an unwed mother.

MAY

1 -- Political leaders from all over the nation rush to Los Angeles to express their concern for the inner city, until the TV lights go out.

6 -- The final credits roll for Marlene Dietrich.

14 -- Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., endorsing a balanced-budget amendment, says: "We're going to finally wrestle to the ground this gigantic orgasm that is just out of control."

18 -- Lawrence Welk passes away, but this is not expected to affect his performing skills.

19 -- Tributes to Johnny Carson dominate the airwaves as the beloved "Tonight Show" host, in his last week on the air, is visited by a glittering array of celebrities, including Cher, Newt Gingrich and devastated Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

21 -- In what will later be viewed as a mistake, the crack Middle East Peace Negotiating Team is sent into what used to be Yugoslavia. Johnny Carson plays host to Mother Teresa, the Chicago Bulls, Telly Savalas, Susan Sontag and Weird Al Yankovic.

22 -- In Los Angeles, a judge orders police officers acquitted of beating Rodney King to be retried, this time by a jury that is not legally blind.

30 -- A Milwaukee judge rules that a Chicago man, whose sperm was used to fertilize an egg removed from an Atlanta woman who was paid by a Detroit couple who have since divorced and are now in a bitter court dispute over what brand of refrigerator to keep the embryo in, does have the right to be in the first segment when the story is featured on "Oprah."

JUNE

3 -- Bill Clinton, seeking to improve his image among young voters, goes on "The Arsenio Hall Show" and, after donning a pair of dark sunglasses, smokes a joint.

4 -- Thousands of delegates from all over the world jet to Rio de Janeiro for the Earth Summit, an event that scientists predict will severely deplete the planet's dwindling supply of hors d'oeuvres.

10 -- New "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno welcomes special guest George Bush, who seeks to improve his image among younger voters by performing "Smoke on the Water" on the ukulele. Earth Summit delegates vote to distribute 680,000 copies of the 571-page Official Earth Summit Manifesto to End Waste and Souvenir Album.

11 -- The U.S. Senate, after intense lobbying by the National Rifle Association, defeats a bill banning handguns in the womb.

13 -- Ross Perot, appearing on the David Letterman show, wows young voters with a rendition of "Stairway to Heaven" on a nose flute.

14 -- The U.S. House, after a lengthy session during which virtually every member gets up and makes an impassioned speech stating that Something Must Be Done about the deficit, rejects the balanced-budget amendment.

17 -- Seeking to boost the sagging U.S. humor industry, Vice President Quayle gives a spelling lesson.

18 -- True item: A federal audit shows that William Reilly, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, which sets strict mileage standards for cars owned by ordinary humans, often drives a federal car that gets 6.3 miles per gallon.

27 -- Ross Perot, angered by allegations of former campaign staff members that he pried into their private lives, threatens to release photographs of them naked.

JULY

1 -- With the economy mired in a recession and Democrats preparing to nominate a highly skilled campaigner in Bill Clinton, Republican Party strategists realize that their only realistic hope for guaranteeing George Bush's re-election is to mess up Ross Perot's daughter's wedding.

2 -- Financially troubled Braniff Airlines suddenly ceases operations, but officials assure nervous passengers that most flights "should be able to glide to safety."

9 -- The U.N. Security Council meets in a closed session with representatives of the CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, the Trilateral Commission, the Justice League of America and the Fantastic Four to finalize secret plans for messing up Ross Perot's daughter's wedding.

10 -- Bill Clinton, in a shrewd tactical move designed to woo the crucial department-store-mannequin vote, picks Al Gore as his running mate. Eric Sevareid goes to heaven, where he will be constantly mistaken for God.

14 -- In New York, delegates to the Democratic Convention, sensing a chance for victory after 12 years out of power, roar with approval when a passionate Mario Cuomo declares that he "might still be available."

16 -- Ross Perot, sacrificing personal gratification to save the nation from the devastation that would inevitably result from the international conspiracy to mess up his daughter's wedding, announces that he does not wish to be president, forcing many of his followers to turn to their second choice, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

17 -- Increasingly suspicious U.N. arms inspectors observe as Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, visiting a street market, purchases a 17-foot long "zucchini" clearly labeled "50 megatons." In New York, Bill Clinton nears the halfway mark in his acceptance speech.

28 -- The hideout of Pablo Escobar, the world's leading cocaine dealer, is located and surrounded by 2,000 Colombian troops, but the wily cocaine lord manages to make his escape after shouting, "Your fly is down!"

29 -- In Olympic basketball action, the Dream Team defeats the Republic of Zwit 563-4.

AUGUST

1 -- This would have been an excellent time for South Floridians to check on their homeowners' insurance.

6 -- In Olympic basketball, the Dream Team defeats an invading force of Atomic Death Robots From The Planet Dorg.

8 -- Basketball legend Larry Bird retires, citing concern over Ross Perot's daughter's wedding.

14 -- John Sirica receives the Big Subpoena.

18 -- As the Republican Party, facing an uphill fight, gathers in Houston for a crucial convention, millions of issues-conscious American voters focus their full attention on Woody Allen and Mia Farrow.

20 -- At the Republican Convention, it's Traditional Family Values night, as delegates burn a suspected witch.

21 -- In a widely praised speech accepting his renomination, President Bush, showing a new awareness of the task ahead, pledges to "think up some programs or something."

23 -- Hurricane Andrew approaches South Florida. Desperate residents shop for plywood, batteries, flashlights and canned food. Roofers price luxury cars.

24 -- Hurricane Andrew hits the mainland, setting in motion one of the largest domestic relief efforts in U.S. history as public and private organizations send in billions of dollars, tons of supplies, thousands of relief workers and an estimated two insurance adjusters.

SEPTEMBER

2 -- International arms monitors voice renewed concern when an operable nuclear warhead from the former Soviet Union shows up in the Action Figures section of a Passaic, N.J., Toys "R" Us.

6 -- General Motors offers a credit card.

13 -- Due to a manufacturing defect, General Motors is forced to recall 275,000 credit cards.

17 -- With the nation facing harsh choices on major issues, the U.S. Congress passes, after heated debate, a law regulating cable-TV rates.

25 -- In a landmark ruling, an Orlando, Fla., judge declares that a 12-year-old boy has the right to select his own parents. He selects Marge and Homer Simpson.

28 -- The political world is thrown into an uproar when Ross Perot, having thwarted the intergalactic plot to mess up his daughter's wedding, hints he may re-enter the presidential race.

31 -- Ignore this. September has only 30 days.

OCTOBER

2 -- Ross Perot re-enters the presidential race, pledging to "clean up this mess in Washington" and "get these tiny CIA computers out of my teeth."

3 -- In a shrewd public-relations move that garners enormous sympathy for her cause, whatever it is, follicly impaired singer Sinead O'Connor tears up a photo of the pope.

5 -- After more than a month of on-again, off-again negotiations, a debate format is finally agreed upon, and all four major news networks interrupt their prime-time programming to present the first of four scheduled prime-time confrontations between Mia Farrow and Woody Allen.

11 -- The pope, appearing on the "Larry King Live" show, tears up a photograph of Sinead O'Connor.

13 -- In the first of four presidential debates, Bill Clinton promises to increase spending for jobs, education, health care, the environment, the infrastructure, the outfrastructure and parking. Bush says Clinton is a bozo. Ross Perot says it's time to cut bait and talk turkey.

18 -- In Atlanta, during ceremonies opening game two of the World Series between the Braves and the Toronto Blue Jays, the Marine Corps color guard carries the Canadian flag upside-down.

19 -- In the second presidential debate, Ross Perot says you have to bale hay while the tractor is warm.

21 -- Literature-lovers flock to bookstores to purchase the latest work by respected author and naked person Madonna.

22 -- Red Barber calls his final out.

23 -- In the third presidential debate, George Bush says that Clinton is Satan. Ross Perot says you can't feed grits to a dead hog.

26 -- In the fourth and final presidential debate, Bill Clinton promises to give voters a magic pill that will enable them to live forever while at the same time never suffering from hair loss. George Bush bites Clinton on the leg. Ross Perot says it takes two snakes to cross a puddle. A post-debate poll of prospective voters shows that the majority of them believe the Braves should have used their relief pitchers more.

29 -- Bill Clinton loses his voice and stops talking. He surges in the polls.

NOVEMBER

1 -- Pollsters report that the presidential race is tightening as voters swing from Clinton to Bush, with Perot support holding steady.

3 -- Pollsters report that voters are edging back toward Bush, then suddenly darting back toward Clinton, with Perot supporters eating a ham sandwich.

4 -- Pollsters report that the voters, by a statistically significant margin, are saying that the election was yesterday.

5 -- In post-election activity, President Bush, insisting that he is "not bitter at all," orders the missile cruiser Cowpens to fire a strike against his own campaign headquarters.

7 -- Socks the cat appears on the "Larry King Live" show.

8 -- Clinton is plunged into the first major controversy of his presidency when top-level military officials object to his plan to eliminate the armed forces' long-standing policy against admitting people who have good haircuts.

13 -- In sports, heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield is defeated by challenger Bobby Fischer.

16 -- Bill Clinton angrily defends his choice of Vernon Jordan as transition chief, claiming that Jordan's ties to the tobacco industry will have "no effect" on Cabinet appointments.

19 -- Clinton names Joe the Camel as secretary of agriculture.

26 -- Adding more woes to Britain's troubled royal family, a fire strikes the queen's clothes closet, destroying 4,317 hats with an estimated street value of $11. Superman dies, probably as a result of wearing the same underwear for 50 years.

29 -- NASA officials hope to see a boost for the troubled space program as the space shuttle Adventuresome blasts into space on a daring mission to repair a faulty hose in the $34.3 million Orbital Washer-Dryer.

DECEMBER

1 -- What begins as a friendly transitional get-together between the Bushes and Clintons ends in tragedy when Millie ralphs up what is later identified as Socks the cat.

3 -- Professional baseball's owners, meeting to set the 1993 schedule, vote unanimously to eliminate the actual games so everybody can devote full time to contract hassles.

8 -- Congress, seeking to ease the pain during difficult times, approves a $34.7 million program to teach defeated and retiring congresspersons how to deal with ordinary civilian life, including courses on Paying for Your Own Meal, Parking With Common People, and How to Buy a Postage Stamp and Attach It to an Envelope.

19 -- In a surprise Cabinet move, Bill Clinton appoints Gennifer Flowers as secretary of human affairs.

24 -- The American Medical Association, concluding a 10-year study on why health-care costs are rising so fast, reports that the fundamental cause "could be a number of things," so "we're going to schedule some tests," but there is no need to worry because "insurance will pay for it."

26 -- Allegations of Japanese "dumping" on the U.S. auto market flare anew when 9-year-old Jason Loogett of Memphis, Tenn., discovers a Toyota minivan in his Cracker Jacks.

27 -- Superman returns to life on "Larry King Live."

31 -- A grateful nation celebrates the end, at last, of a truly bizarre year. Meanwhile, bands of white men in dark suits are converging on New Hampshire to begin laying the groundwork for their bids for the 1996 presidential primary. Fortunately, however, serious campaigning is not expected to begin until next week. Until then, have a happy New Year.

DAVE BARRY is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist. His weekly column, "To Wit," appears in Sun Magazine.

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