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There’s No Success Like Failure

You know that annoying guy in the next cubicle, the one who’s always complaining that his hard work is ignored while less deserving people move ahead? Well, this year he was finally right.

This year was a year of reverse instant karma.

A year in which failure was rewarded and success was punished. It was the year of celebrating the undeserving. The year, to put it simply, of Paris Hilton. There were no consequences for anything. I know people who didn’t vote and not one of them died despite P. Diddy’s best intentions. There was genocide in Sudan, but no one could be bothered to stop it.

Husband-beating Liza Minnelli roams free. On “The Amazing Race,” Charla the dwarf touched an electric fence and walked away unscathed. If electric fences don’t work on midgets, what exactly is their purpose?

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Donald Rumsfeld got to keep his job. Michael Ovitz got to keep his money. Bill O’Reilly got to remain the mouthpiece of manly conservatism even though we discovered that his idea of phone sex involves taking a woman to a Caribbean hotel and massaging her with a loofah. His idea of rough sex is exfoliating.

It was a year in which we allowed a guy to mull over who should receive the honor of being his business apprentice each week -- at the same time he was losing a battle in bankruptcy court.

Ignoring diet and exercise, Anna Nicole Smith somehow shed weight by taking Trimspa, which makes sense only if Trimspa is a brand of crack. Kmart, deciding it didn’t have enough cheap junk no one wanted, bought Sears -- and its stock price went up.

The movies that did best were the ones that were most unwatchable. A one-sided documentary with flimsy evidence blaming George W. Bush for 9/11? Huge. A movie in which the rich story of Christ is boiled down to two hours of brutal flaying in a language no one speaks -- including the people in Christ’s Bethlehem? Even bigger. A song whose entire chorus is the word “yeah”? Our biggest hit. William Hung got on radio by somehow creating an even worse version of “Livin’ La Vida Loca.”

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Sports was even more unfair. The Red Sox got to end their 86-year curse because the Yankees choked a three-game lead and the Cardinals’ hitters forgot to swing. The Expos could have won those playoffs. And Greece had an Olympics run smoothly despite waiting until the last minute to sell tickets. Paul Hamm tripped and kept his gold medal. Terrell Owens only got to see the second-hottest of the “Desperate Housewives” naked, yet the morality police nailed him so bad that God decided to injure him for the season.

Kids’ icons ranged from the Olsen twins, who got on magazine covers because of an eating disorder, to Ashlee Simpson, who beat Nicky Hilton in the sisterstakes by not singing. What kind of lessons are these for the children? It’s like telling them that if they don’t go to college, knock up their girlfriend, ignore their hygiene and barely make enough money as a cheesy backup dancer, they can marry Britney Spears.

Good deeds were actually punished. The only voice in the Cabinet who warned that Iraqis wouldn’t be throwing tulips at our feet, Colin Powell, was pushed out of the Cabinet. After two presidents who went unscathed for ducking the draft, John Kerry’s bravery was questioned for serving in Vietnam. For the first time, Howard Stern was not the perpetrator behind someone having her top removed on television and yet he was the one punished by the FCC. The authors of the 9/11 report -- the first readable government document in 200 years -- didn’t get their names on the book or a piece of the action for the NBC miniseries being made by Ron Howard.

The only thing that gives us hope was the one man celebrated for his accomplishments this year. The man the whole country rallied around to root for as he shocked us with his intelligence: Ken Jennings. And man, that guy is a dork. And when we all get this excited about a dork, it’s usually time to pull out of the stock market.

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Seriously, you didn’t buy that Google stock, did you?


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