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Unhappily ever aftermath
Once upon a time in 2002, things got worse before they got better

THE YEAR 2002 was like a fairy tale — the middle of a fairy tale, when despair grows exponentially with each turn of the page. Just a year after the usurping of the throne, sinister forces continued dismantling all that was ever good and decent within the fallen kingdom of America. And so the dark shadow that was 2001 grew longer until our nation became engulfed by starless, moonless, unremitting night. At year’s end, many of us fear we may never see another metaphorical sunrise.

2002: The Fairy Tale was authored by the Family Grim, a/k/a the Bushes. They got plenty of ghostwriting help from an assemblage of spooks, zealots, felons, merchants of death, environmental assassins, bigots, and ratro-retread right-wingers who rose from political caskets to reassert world views that were arcane back when Strom Thurmond was still fighting for the Confederate Army.

In the long-ago, medieval peasants had to rely on the Church and its suspect agenda for what little information they received. In 2002, the great unwashed turned to a complicit and corrupt corporate media for news. If we ever reach the third reel and the big fairy-tale courtroom scene, media magnates will be sitting in the dock with wicked witches, evil sorcerers, greedy ogres, and pretenders-to-thrones. The sun will rise and the serfs will seize the brief, shining moment to bring (if you’ll forgive the term) the evildoers to justice.


The bucks stop there

2002 arrived discharging sparks of hope. The "Take the Money, Enron" scandal emitted such a new-year stench that it seemed at least plausible that Americans might finally see Court-appointed president George W. Bush not as an heir apparent but as an apparent error. Enron demonstrated that the pie-eyed piper in the White House didn’t just attract rats, he sought their guidance and did their bidding.

Enron set the platinum standard for scum. It was the business model for much of what was revealed throughout the rest of the year. Shortsighted, cold-hearted, and with a front office replete with more felons than you could fit into a crack house on a Friday night, this Ponzi scheme of a conglomerate had one business goal — to rob everyone.

The Crooked E couldn’t have pulled off this swindle without the help of Big Jive accounting firm Andersen LLP (formerly Arthur Andersen). Apparently, the firm believed LLP stood for "Let’s Loot People." With all the shredding Andersen did, it obviously forgot why its profession is called bookkeeping.

The best thing Enron did for its beloved GOP was spread money around on both sides of the ever-narrowing American political aisle. Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman’s former chief of staff was a lobbyist for Enron. Lieberman also received campaign and PAC contributions from the corporation that he later gently poked and prodded at some Capitol Hill hearings.

Responding to calls for him to recuse himself from the Enron investigation, the indignant Lieberman sputtered, "To say Enron owns me is absurd. Anyone who knows me knows that I am first, last, and always a pawn of the insurance industry!"

Bush’s State of the Union address included his infamous designation of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an "axis of evil." Iran and Iraq are blood enemies, and North Korea is far removed from both nations, being located just slightly north of South Korea. Attorney General Kaiser Ashcroft was said to oppose the language Bush employed because he didn’t think it appropriate to use "axis" as a pejorative term. But the war on this particular axis proved to be a success. There wasn’t a single summit between the leaders of the three nations throughout the rest of the year.

Weird stories about Kaiser Ashcroft abounded. This year, a Dutch report claimed that Ashcroft considers calico cats to be a sign of the devil. One day, while speaking to a group of North Carolina seminarians (and who better for the AG to address?), Ashcroft burst into song. Accompanied by a wobbly backing track that sounded like it had been engineered on a circa-1975 Realistic® tape recorder, he broke into an inanely corny and nationalistic song of his own composition called "Let the Eagle Soar." As bad as it was, ludicrous choreography, including a cringe-inducing lamp-lifting Statue of Liberty re-enactment, tipped us off that he had been planning this number for some time.

Next, Ashcroft ordered a bare-breasted statue at the Justice Department covered so that he wouldn’t be caught flagrante delicto with an inanimate object. The bronze harlot was just begging for trouble, but the AG knew how to remove temptation, and she was foiled. A few weeks later, when the Kaiser kept singing "Let the Eagle Soar," the statue asked to be fitted with earplugs. Later in the year, Amnesty International investigated charges that the song was used to torture prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. A lot of people would sell their souls to calico cats if it would help run John Ashcroft from public office.

At February’s Salt Lake City Winter Olympic games (a/k/a the Downhill Cumorah Pageant), US Olympic figure skater Sasha Cohen said Bush told her during the opening ceremonies he couldn’t stay to watch any events because "I’ve got a war to fight." He then boarded Air Force One and flew to the Wyoming front to address his troops in Jackson Hole.

On an Asian tour, Bush made a grand gesture and offered China an opportunity to become the 51st police state. In honor of W.’s visit, Japan graciously renamed itself "The Land of the Really Stupid Son" for the duration of his stay.

W. called Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi "a great reformer." Koizumi returned the compliment by saying, "There’d be no need for reform if it weren’t for people like George W. Bush."


This ain’t Florida, gringo!

In March, Vice-President Dick Cheney was penciled in to head up the Shadow Government, although some questioned the move since he himself doesn’t cast one. Cheney spent much of the month on a 12-nation war-keeping mission. The tour was fairly uneventful except for one speech during which Cheney chipped a fang on a microphone.

The subtle yet inimitable influence of Henry Kissinger permeated news that the Pentagon had secret plans for nuking seven nations. Energy secretary Spencer Abraham privately hoped Bush would drop the Big One on the Middle East so that we could begin burning nuclear-fossil fuels. Kaiser Ashcroft doesn’t think of them as nukes — he considers them "rapture accelerants."

In March, Fatherland-security chief Tom Rigid unveiled a rainbow coalition of color codes with which the Bushies could foment panic and diversions whenever the public got too interested in matters not deemed appropriate for their consideration.

In the Middle East, Israel seized more land because Palestinian suicide bombers struck again because Israel began construction on a fence because Palestinian suicide bombers struck again because Israel launched rocket attacks because Palestinian suicide bombers struck again because Israel bulldozed occupied homes because Palestinian suicide bombers struck again because Israel leveled neighborhoods ...

In response, Bush admonished Yasir Arafat to resume "security cooperation" against terrorism with Israel. Security cooperation between Ariel Sharon and Arafat was about as likely as a poison-control program between cobras.

The massacres continued on both sides, spreading as far away as a Kenyan resort where innocent Israeli tourists where murdered by a terrorist bomb in December. Nowhere did 2002 seem more hopeless than in this continuing conflict perpetuated by a few, victimizing many.

In the beginning, there were priests and they saw that the collar was good ... for covering up what they did with what was under the rest of their robes. By April, many American Catholics began kicking themselves for not questioning those NAMBLA Journal inserts in the Sunday Bulletin.

A coup attempt against President Hugo Chavez masterminded by School of the Americas graduates and publicized by the corporate media put Venezuela into a brief state of flux. Within 24 hours, they were re-corking the champagne at CIA headquarters.

That assault on Latin American democracy installed "President" Pedro Carmona, who in just 24 hours dissolved the legitimately elected congress, delayed elections, and declared he had the right to remove any elected official from power. Bush and Carmona immediately formed a new group: the Organization of Illegitimate Leaders, or OIL.

The next day, the fix was out and the message from Venezuela to Bush was clear: this ain’t Florida, gringo! It was W.’s worst failure since his last breathalyzer test.

Bush went to New York’s Adirondack Mountains on Earth Day. During the week preceding his visit, the area experienced a heat wave, torrential rains, an earthquake, and finally, while he was there, a blinding snowstorm, making him the first president so environmentally unfriendly that an entire mountain range refused to appear in a photo-op with him. The Adirondack Chamber of Commerce asked W. to keep his stay short because it feared that if he hung around and kept lying about the environment, the Bowels of Hell would open.

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Issue Date: December 26, 2002 - January 2, 2003
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