Stories you'll see in 2008

The winner of the Iowa caucuses will be ... a local PTA official.

TWO THOUSAND AND EIGHT will certainly produce many unusual, even weird, news events – but we're not going to wait around for them to actually occur. Here's a look back at the year that's about to begin:

P.T.A. OFFICIAL WINS IOWA CAUCUSES

Unimpressed by any of the declared candidates, Iowa residents of both political parties on Jan. 3 picked as their preferred presidential nominee Greenspring Park PTA Executive Secretary Claudia Zirconium. Participants in Iowa's first-in-the-nation political caucuses said that after much discussion they all realized that anyone who wants to be president is "nutters," in the words of one participant, and that the only way to get decent leadership is to draft someone who isn't running for the office.

"Everybody knows Claudia – she raised over $200,000 for a new playground by asking for corporate donations from all over the state," said caucus participant Lumell Ponderoso. "And she made the principal think everything was his idea! That took real political skill."

Ms. Zirconium, a mother of three who works as a community college admissions assistant, said she would be happy to serve if elected, since the job of president "looks easier than what I do now, frankly."

U.S. OKS SINGLE-PAYER TECH SUPPORT

The United States on March 26 became the first nation in the developed world to nationalize computer technical support services after President Bush signed the Enough-is-Enough-Why-Can't-I-Get-Anyone-On-The-Phone Act of 2008. Mr. Bush credited the bill's quick passage to an unexpected burst of bipartisan good feeling. Bush and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada bonded over the fact that both have had difficulties getting their wireless printers running on home networks.

Under the bill, the federal government will field all queries from frustrated consumers about why their laptops, desk computers, cellphones, music players, game consoles, virtual pets, and other electronic paraphernalia are so complicated that Bill Gates himself can't get them to work. The bill was passed despite opposition from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) of California, who maintained that her iBook works fine.

CELL-PHONE DIPLOMACY ON MIDEAST

A ringing cellphone distracted Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Abed Rabbo while he was making a speech on the status of East Jerusalem at an international peace conference held in Morocco Dec. 16. After the phone was turned off, Mr. Abed Rabbo found that he could not remember what he was talking about. "The ring tone was one of those songs from the Eddie Vedder soundtrack to "Into the Wild," said Abed Rabbo. "I really loved that movie."

Embarrassingly, Israeli negotiator Ehud Reve then found himself unable to recall his nation's position on the Palestinian right of return. Mr. Reve apologized for forgetting to set his phone to vibrate, and said that Mr. Vedder was one of his favorite artists. After several hours of intense talks, the two sides issued a joint resolution honoring the former Pearl Jam frontman.

"This shows why the two sides need to get past their differences of political position and focus on their common human qualities," said US President-elect Claudia Zirconium in a statement issued Dec. 19.

• Peter Grier writes for the Monitor from Washington.

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