THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

That was a rough one

The best thing about 2010? It's over!

Dave Barry illustration
By Dave Barry
January 2, 2011

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Let’s put things into perspective: 2010 was not the worst year ever. There have been MUCH worse years. For example, toward the end of the cretaceous period, the earth was struck by an asteroid that wiped out 75 percent of all the species on the planet. Can we honestly say that we had a worse year than those species did? Yes, we can, because they were not exposed to Jersey Shore.

So, on second thought, we see that this was, in fact, the worst year ever. The perfect symbol for the awfulness of 2010 was the BP oil spill, which oozed up from the depths and spread, totally out of control, like some kind of hideous, uncontrollable metaphor. (Or, Jersey Shore.) The scariest thing about the spill was, nobody in charge seemed to know what to do about it. Time and again, top political leaders flew down to the Gulf of Mexico to look at the situation firsthand. And yet somehow, despite these efforts, the oil continued to leak. This forced us to face the disturbing truth that even top policy thinkers with postgraduate degrees from Harvard University – Harvard University! – could not stop it.

Things were even worse abroad. North Korea continued to show why it is known as “the international equivalent of Charlie Sheen.” The entire nation of Greece went into foreclosure and had to move out; it is now living with relatives in Bulgaria.

This is not to say that 2010 was all bad. There were bright spots. Three, to be exact:

The Yankees did not even get into the World Series.

There were several days during which Lindsay Lohan was neither going into, nor getting out of, rehab.

Apple released the hugely anticipated iPad, giving iPhone people, at long last, something to fondle with their other hand.

Other than that, 2010 was a disaster. To make absolutely sure that we do not repeat it, let’s remind ourselves just how bad it was.

JANUARY

Every poll suggests that the major concerns of the American people are federal spending, the exploding deficit, and – above all – jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs. So the Obama administration, displaying the keen awareness that has become its trademark, decides to focus like a laser on: overhauling health care. The centerpiece of this effort is a historic bill that will either (a) guarantee everybody excellent free health care or (b) permit federal bureaucrats to club old people to death. Nobody knows which, because nobody has read the bill, which in printed form has the same mass as a UPS truck.

FEBRUARY

Tiger Woods delivers a nationally televised speech in which he says he is very, very sorry and has sworn off having sex with as many as eight different hot women per day. His golf game immediately goes into the toilet.

In other sports news, the Vancouver Winter Olympics begin on an uncertain note when it is discovered that Vancouver – apparently nobody realized this ahead of time – is a seaside city with a mild climate, so there is no snow. This hampers some of the competition, as for example when the Latvian cross-country ski team gets bogged down in mud and is eaten by alligators. Despite these setbacks, the games are deemed a big success, at least by the Canadians, because they won in hockey.

MARCH

Democratic congressional leaders, responding to polls suggesting that the health care bill is increasingly unpopular with the public, manage, with a frantic, last-minute effort, to pass the health care bill, or at least a giant mass of paper that is assumed to be the health care bill. This leads to a triumphant White House signing ceremony, the highlight of which is Vice President Joe “Joe” Biden dropping the f-bomb moments before being hustled off by aides to have an important meeting with somebody important.

APRIL

The Deepwater Horizon rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico after being struck by a runaway Toyota Camry. BP initially downplays the magnitude of the problem, claiming that the resulting oil leak is smallish and might go away on its own or even prove to be, quote, “nutritious for oysters.” Soon, however, large patches of crude oil are drifting toward land, and it becomes clear that this is a major disaster – a challenge that we, as a nation, will have to meet, as we have met other challenges, with a combination of photo opportunities, lawsuits, and Tweeting.

Elsewhere on the disaster scene, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull (literally, “many syllables”) volcano erupts, sending huge clouds of ash into the atmosphere and forcing airlines throughout northern Europe to ground all flights. Greece, although not directly affected, announces that it will take six months off, just in case; France, as an added precaution, surrenders.

MAY

The pesky oil spill dominates the news as BP tries a series of increasingly desperate measures to plug the leak, including, at one point, a 167,000-pound wad of pre-chewed Juicy Fruit. President Obama, eager to show that he is on top of the situation, develops severe forehead cramps from standing on the shore and frowning with concern at the water. Despite these heroic efforts, the leak continues to grow, and by the end of the month is threatening suburban Des Moines.

JUNE

BP attempts to stop the leak using a high-tech robot submarine, only to see the effort fail when the sub is seized by Somali pirates.

In consumer news, Apple finally releases the long-awaited iPhone 4, which incorporates many subtle improvements, the cumulative result of which is that it can neither make nor receive telephone calls. It is, of course, a huge hit.

JULY

Just when all appears to be lost, BP announces that it has stopped the leak using a 75-ton cap and what a company official describes as “a truly heroic manatee named Wendell.” This important story remains the focus of the nation’s attention for nearly 45 minutes, after which it shifts to Lindsay Lohan.

The big sports story is the decision by LeBron James to play for the Miami Heat, where he will join Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Michael Jordan, the late Wilt Chamberlain, and Jesus to form a dream basketball team so supremely excellent that it cannot possibly lose, not even one single game, EVER, in theory. Miami erupts in a joyous weeks-long victory celebration.

AUGUST

In the month’s most dramatic story, 33 copper miners in Chile are trapped 2,300 feet underground following a cave-in caused by a runaway Toyota Camry. The good news is that the men are still alive; the bad news is that the only drilling equipment capable of reaching them quickly belongs to BP. Informed of this, the men elect to stay down there for the time being.

SEPTEMBER

The 2010 election season enters its final days with polls suggesting that Congress enjoys the same overall level of voter popularity as hemorrhoids. Incumbents swarm out of our nation’s capital and head for their home districts to campaign on the theme of how much they hate Washington, in the desperate hope that the voters will return them to Washington. Obama, basking in the glow of the health care overhaul, offers to campaign for Democratic candidates, only to find that many of them have important dental appointments and are unable to join him on whatever day he is planning to visit.

OCTOBER

On the legal front, the Supreme Court, as it does every October, begins a new term, which is hastily adjourned when the justices discover that their robes have bedbugs.

The 33 trapped Chilean miners are all brought safely to the surface, only to be sent right back down because they failed to bring up any copper – which, as the mining company points out, “was the whole point of sending them down there in the first place.”

NOVEMBER

The elections turn out to be a blood bath for the Democrats, who lose the House of Representatives, a bunch of Senate seats, several governorships, some state legislatures, and all key student council races. Also, a number of long-term Democratic incumbents are urinated on by their own dogs. Obama immediately departs for a nine-day trip to Asia to see whether anybody over there wants to hear about the benefits of the health care overhaul.

DECEMBER

As the year finally draws to a close, all eyes are on Times Square, where MTV plans to ring in the new year by dropping a ball containing Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, one of the leading bimbos of Jersey Shore. Millions eagerly tune in, only to find that the ball has been attached to something that makes it drop slowly. A bitterly disappointing end to a bitterly disappointing year.

But at least it’s over, right? And 2011 cannot possibly be worse. Unless, of course, this newly discovered asteroid – maybe you read about it – continues on a trajectory that . . .

Try not to think about it. Have another margarita. Happy New Year.

Dave Barry writes regularly for The Miami Herald. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.

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