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Turned on the TV the other night and listened to a CNN panel of experts making predictions about the new year in business. Near as I could determine, these people had been so successful at figuring out what the market was gonna do in 2004 that they now needed a night job on CNN. This was presumably in lieu of selling flowers on an offramp. Then I picked up a newspaper and read a very interesting column predicting what the Supreme Court would do in 2005. The writer attributed a lot of opinions to “Court-watchers,” which fascinated me because I thought being on the Supreme Court was the worst job in the world. Turns out there’s at least one worse. Finally, I turned on my car radio and heard a bunch of ex-linebackers and former coaches predicting the outcome of the bowl games. This panel was apparently chosen on the basis that they were “colorful.” After listening to the bowl-pickers, I realized that once again I was the last guy to figure out what the cool kids were doing. Obviously, everybody in the media who has time or space to fill at the end of the year does so by getting a bunch of his buddies together with a mike and a keg of beer and just turning them loose. They make a bunch of half-baked predictions which nobody pays any attention to, the space is filled, the check is cut, and everybody goes home happy. Well, I’m in the media . . . kinda. I mean, I’m not William Safire. I’m admittedly a little on the fringe. You might say I’m in the media’s Van Allen belt: I’m out here in space talking to the asteroids while the real media types are down on Planet Earth talking to ordinary rocks. But it’s the media, nonetheless. So I figured I could get my own panel of experts together, and we could sit around spit-balling 2005, and I’d write it down and send it to my editors. Sounded a whole lot easier than writing the column myself. Probably woulda worked better if I’d made it clear to my experts that they need not each provide a keg, but hey, this is new to me. Next year, my invitation will be clearer, and so, presumably, will their heads. So my dentist, my high school football coach, my Uncle Floyd, and the liquor store guy who sold me the keg (who turned out to be from New York, so I invited him because, after all, what kind of panel of experts can you have without a New Yorker?) all sat around drinking and watching the game until I got out the Ouija board (I’m pretty sure this is how Robert Novak does it) and this is what we came up with: January: Border war breaks out between Costa Rica and Honduras. It rages for six days before the two countries discover they have no common border. February: The Democratic Party announces the site for its 2008 convention: Schroeder’s Cafe in downtown San Francisco. Asked what he intends to do with all the extra space, party chair Tom Arnold explains that the restaurant will be hosting a bar mitzvah that night too. The National Basketball Association, responding to criticism of players attacking fans, announces it will no longer refer to games as “games” but as “steel-cage death matches,” and fans will be encouraged to throw beer and debris. Additional changes include the elimination of dribbling and the provision of helmets, shoulder pads, knives, and steroids to players. The league also changes its name to My Big Fat Obnoxious Basketball Association. Fox Sports offers the league $5 billion a year for the television rights. Rapper M.B. Foba sues My Big Fat Obnoxious Basketball Association for acronym infringement. The league buys him off for $1 billion of the Fox money, and then, in an inspired move, buys the rights to the USA Patriot Act from the Justice Department for the same amount and sells them to NASCAR for $2 billion. March: Research scientists at MIT announce that while they have not yet synthesized a drug that kills cancer cells, they have developed one that gives the cells tiny little headaches every night, thus substantially reducing their reproductive rate. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, fully recovered from cancer, nonetheless resigns from the Court and opens a hardware store in Moline, Ill. He will live to the age of 103, manning the counter until 2025. In all that time, no one ever sees him without his robe on. April: President George W. Bush appoints Harvard professor Laurence Tribe to replace Rehnquist. Somewhat taken aback by the resulting furor, a chastened Bush explains that he really had no idea there actually was such a person. “It was a joke. You know, ‘chief . . . tribe.’ Appoint a tribe for the chief instead of a chief for the tribe. Get it? Kinda a Native Americanian thing.” May: The Supreme Court, sitting in emergency session, rejects the Justice Department’s argument that Tribe’s appointment was not effective because the president “still had his finger on it.” The Court finds that Richard Nixon’s “Checkers” speech did not incorporate the rules of checkers into the president’s powers. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales calls the ruling “quaint.” Anti-abortion groups are outraged, and Bush becomes the first non-Baptist ever excommunicated from the Baptist Church. June: The National Football League finally awards a franchise to Los Angeles. New owner Arte Moreno names it the New York Yankees of Buenos Aires “for marketing reasons.” The California Supreme Court abandons its oft-criticized practice of depublishing flawed lower court cases, explaining that henceforth it will review each opinion and either grant a hearing or order it published. The legal community is aghast at this major expansion of California case law, but its astonishment diminishes two weeks later when the court orders a Sixth District opinion translated into Urdu and published in the Kuala Lumpur Shopper’s News. July: A 15-year-old announces that she has achieved cold fusion in her garage using a mayonnaise jar, two quarts of diet Snapple, a leaf blower, and parts from a Nintendo game. The scientific community scoffs, but University of Chicago physicists trying to replicate her experiment blow up Illinois. Sen. John Kerry, kidnapped by terrorists in March, is released upon payment of $362.50. This is considerably less than the $6 million they demanded, but Teresa Heinz Kerry explains that the combination of hard times in the ketchup industry and the kidnappers’ reluctance to hear further clarifications of Kerry’s position on the war finally convinced them to “take the market price and be happy to have it.” August: Puerto Rico renews its bid for statehood, but is rejected. Oprah Winfrey and Wal-Mart, however, are approved and become the 51st and 52nd states, effective as soon as Oprah can get out of her contract with ABC. In what becomes known as the Second Missouri Compromise, it’s agreed that Oprah will enter the Union as a blue state and Wal-Mart as a red state. September: The NCAA is called upon to investigate allegations that actual students were used in a football game between Nebraska and Florida State. Both schools issue angry denials, but the matter isn’t cleared up until weeks later when it’s discovered that the football players were merely mistaken for students because they have similar names. After the Carolinas are shredded by Hurricanes Bonnie, Claudine, Danielle, Eric, and Ferdinand, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina introduces a bill to outlaw alphabetical order. The legislation clears the Senate 98-2, the only negative votes coming from Kansas, where it’s already illegal to teach the alphabet. October: A proposed constitutional amendment to allow non-native-born Americans to run for president picks up steam when Arnold Schwarzenegger points out that the change would also make Superman and E.T. eligible for the presidency. Americans flock to Costco in record numbers to sign the petitions. November: Algeria and Ivory Coast are granted statehood after President Bush declares the Bush Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine: “If they hate the French, how bad can they be?” Unable to decide which one will be a red state and which a blue, Congress admits them both as yellow states, which, according to the Department of Homeland Security, means they’re on a heightened security alert and must take an oath not to give flying lessons to anyone. December: The NFL awards expansion franchises to Wal-Mart and Libya. The Libyan team, Qdaffi’s Qducks, announces it will build a new stadium in Anaheim, Calif., as soon as it can come to terms with the New York Yankees of Buenos Aires, who own the lease to Anaheim Stadium. Wal-Mart announces it will play its home games in Little Rock and purchases the rest of Arkansas for parking. President Bush, having run out of people who worked for him in Texas, is forced to go outside that circle to appoint a new secretary of the interior. He chooses his mother after she convinces him to add five days to December “because everybody loves the holidays, and we can’t keep giving ‘em tax cuts.” I choose a new panel of experts. Hope 2005 comes up aces for you. William W. Bedsworth is an associate justice at the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana, Calif. He can be reached at [email protected]. This article previously appeared in The Recorder , the ALM newspaper published in San Francisco.

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