Through the glass lightly

Race to the Bottom predicts the top 10 news events of 2009

I miss Johnny Carson, the all-time king of late-night television. My favorite Carson skit was “Carnac the Magnificent,” where he’d don a turban and try to guess the answers to the questions in the sealed envelopes handed to him by sidekick Ed McMahon. Carson would take the envelope, touch it to his turban and guess the answer: “A white sale.” Then he’d tear open the envelope and read the question: “Where can you buy a cheap honky?”

OK, it sounds a little corny today, but Carson’s tongue-in-cheek, take-no-prisoners style left a lasting impression on me. Everybody’s fair game, but it is, after all, just a game. So with a nod to the king, as well as David Letterman’s Top Ten lists, here are my predictions for 2009.

10. Teen starlet Miley Cyrus charges stage dad and business agent Billy Ray Cyrus with embezzlement. Billy Ray presents a unique defense: Miley isn’t his daughter, but his clone, and as sole provider of the DNA, Billy Ray is entitled to all of her life earnings.

9. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declares husband and former President Bill Clinton’s penis an “enemy combatant.” The penis is locked up in Guantanamo Bay, where it is forced to listen to the soothing tones of pan flutist Zamfir 24-seven until it softens up. It later escapes and swims to Miami, where it terrorizes South Beach bathers.

8. Osama bin Laden is found sobbing in the Atlanta Hawks dressing room after a crushing loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Bin Laden, the Hawks’ explosive 6-foot-6-inch power forward–the team’s leading scorer since mysteriously entering the league in October 2001—scored just 9 points while hauling in a paltry three rebounds. “I should have never come out of my cave,” he sniffs.

7. While hunting on Robert Redford’s ranch in Utah, noted outdoorsman and former Vice President Dick Cheney blows his own face off with a 12-gauge shotgun. Asked why Cheney hadn’t reported the incident, a spokesman said, “Listen, man, he blew his whole goddamned face off. Don’t you get it? His fucking head is gone!” Bone fragments from the vice president’s skull are later auctioned off on eBay.

6. The entire service industry collapses when the nation’s population of illegal immigrants, lured by the Mexican peso’s rising value against the U.S. dollar, return home en masse. After three suburban Los Angeles residents die in accidents related to the improper operation of leaf blowers, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger calls on the federal government to seal the border and stop the Mexican exodus.

5. In his shocking tell-all memoir, Gay Like Me, former Hannity & Colmes co-host Alan Colmes reveals that he and Hannity were secretly wed in the Dominican Republic in a ceremony presided over by Rush Limbaugh. Colmes says he left the show after Hannity refused to reveal their relationship on-air during a debate on Proposition 8. “Hannity is an insatiable size queen with a taste for the whip,” Colmes writes. “I guess I don’t have to tell you who was on top.” Hannity calls the book “a pack of lies, the kind of crap you’d expect from someone who works for Fox News.”

4. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson successfully revises the city’s charter to increase the power of the mayor’s office. In a move that stuns city planners, Johnson uses his newly enhanced powers to forbid use of the word Fresno in city council meetings.

3. A team of Bethesda Naval Hospital neurosurgeons successfully attach Scooter Libby’s head to Dick Cheney’s body. Later, during the former vice president’s trial for treason, Cheney’s attorney argues that since Libby has already been pardoned, his client is immune from prosecution. The judge agrees, but Cheney’s body later rejects Libby’s head, and the decision is reversed on appeal.

2. Defying all expectations—and Wall Street, Congress and his entire Cabinet—President Barack Obama withdraws American troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and leads the nation out of the Great Depression. Obama nationalizes the automobile industry, creating a fleet of affordable, zero-emission vehicles that put an end to the global-warming crisis. At the third Camp David Accords, Obama presides over the signing of a Middle East peace treaty between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Israeli Prime Minister Rahm Emanuel. Explaining that no American should have to pay for their own home or anything else, the president forgives $6 trillion in mortgage and credit-card debt. The 22nd Amendment is repealed and Obama becomes the first person since FDR to serve four terms in office.

1. Sarah who?