ImagePer our regular custom, we present some predictions of what could – or in some cases should – happen in the New Year.

Global Warming Litigation. The town of Sodus, New York – joined by the entire state of Minnesota – sues Al Gore for his activities directed at reducing the earth’s temperature. During the previous year, much of the northern USA suffered from disastrous snow and ice storms that produced numerous deaths and injuries. Plaintiffs charge that the former vice president’s political and business activities have led to significant climate-cooling, causing the storms and cold winters. Plaintiffs ask the court for an immediate injunction on showing Mr. Gore’s Academy Award-winning motion picture, “An Inconvenient Truth” – charging that it is exacerbating the damage. This marks the first tort-claim against anti-warming activists for “damage” caused by cold weather. The litigation is expected to become a model for similar claims, world-wide.

Real-estate Recovery. 10,000 out-of-work real-estate agents flock to Northern Canada to sell beachfront property on Hudson Bay. The land-rush occurs in response to claims by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that northern climates will soon warm significantly. The IPCC meant this as a “warning”, but real estate developers – desperate for new business – decided that a warmer arctic could produce new vacation spots. American mortgage markets enter a new boom, as requests for billions in new loans pour in for ground-floor purchases in new northern vacation properties – most of which are buried under ice and snow for 10 months of the year.

Religious Revelations. In a move to garner the New York vote, GOP presidential candidate Rudi Giuliani reveals that he is actually Jewish. Fearing that her hold on New York might be degraded, Senator Hillary Clinton counters by suggesting that Mr. Giuliani is actually of Palestinian origin (on his mother’s side). Seeing this as a threat to his own appeal to Muslim voters, Senator Barak Obama accuses both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Giuliani of being active in atheist organizations during their student days. Mrs. Clinton counters by accusing Mr. Obama of having attended the Explosive Young Terrorists summer youth camp when he was 12. Unknown political operatives further disclose that Bill Clinton was expelled, at 13, from a Baptist summer youth camp for “moral turpitude”. (He had dressed in drag so he could sneak into the girls’ bathroom).

Other Religious Follies. Iranian cleric Ayatollah Kabuki issues a fatwah against Mike Huckabee for blaspheming the Prophet’s name. The GOP candidate had made passing reference to an outstanding Arkansas high school football player named Jefferson Muhammed.

The Pledge. A GOP “debate” questioner asks all Republican candidates to affirm that they did not participate in panty raids during their college days. A weeks-long media-furor erupts when candidate Mitt Romney refuses to answer the question, calling it “trivial” and “not germane to the presidency”. (Democratic candidates were not asked to take the pledge.) Bloggers later reveal that the questioner – lifelong South Carolina Democrat Beauregard T. Jubilance – was expelled from Bob Jones University for participating in a 1967 panty raid on a men’s dormitory.

Car Wars. Democrats crash the stock market in October by passing legislation requiring new American cars to get 100 mpg. General Motors threatens to file for bankruptcy if Mr. Bush signs the law. When he signs it, GM files for Chapter 11 and the Dow Industrials lose 2000 points in a single day, 4000 in a week, and fully half of their value in three weeks. Congressional Democrats open hearings to investigate “collusion” in the investment community. Republicans mock the effort from the Well of the House, noting that the crash was Democrats’ own doing.

Dueling VPs. In mid-June, Barak Obama announces that daytime-TV diva Oprah Winfrey will be his vice-presidential candidate if he becomes the Democrats’ nominee. In a counter-move, Hillary Clinton announces that her running mate will be actor Denzel Washington, but Democratic activists refuse to approve her choice unless Mr. Washington changes his surname to King. They say a candidate named Washington is unacceptable because a US president of that name owned slaves and had no African Americans in his cabinet. Mr. Washington decides to keep his name and withdraws from consideration. Mrs. Clinton’s new choice is actor Mel Gibson, who – campaigning in his “Die Hard” persona, Martin Riggs – threatens to blow away any voters who “choose poorly”. Party officials eventually insist that he wear a muzzle while campaigning.

Dueling VPs (Part II). Republican Mike Huckabee announces that his choice for vice-president is mega-church pastor Rick Warren, who immediately launches a new political offensive by claiming that the Huck-Warren ticket is God-approved. Rudi Giuliani selects actor Marlon Brando to solidify his appeal to “Sicilian family values” voters. Mr. Brando spends 3 months in a Kentucky hospital after he swallows the cotton in his cheeks. (“I want no acts of vengeance,” he rasps to reporters.) Mitt Romney selects Brigham Young VIII for VP and embarks on an “all Mormon, all the time” campaign. John McCain selects Eduardo Rodriguez, an LA immigration activist, but bloggers quickly show that he is actually an “undocumented” immigrant and former cabbage-picker. Fred Thompson names actor Sam Waterston, thus forming the “Law and Order” ticket. Mr. Waterston issues subpoenas to all other candidates, asking them to show cause why they should not be cited for “electoral contempt”. (He later announces that he was “just kidding”.)

High-tech Voting. A spot-check of 5000 computer-terminals ordered for election-duty in Illinois shows that they are actually recycled arcade pac-man games. Inspectors say the machines were essentially filled with what looked like used pinball-machine parts, and had no capability to record votes. A cheap display package showed possible vote-selections, but voter-choices simply went into thin air.

Non-hanging Chads. Colorado and West Virginia become the 36th and 37th states to announce that they are reconverting to punched-card voting in the wake of realizations that computer-terminal voting leaves election commissions with no artifacts, in case a recount is required.

Photo Finish. In several states where recently enacted laws required voters to verify their identity with approved identification cards, exceedingly close election results are challenged by lawsuits claiming that voters were disenfranchised by the requirement. The lawsuits delay finalization of the presidential election results in six states, totaling 87 electoral votes, dragging the undecided election past the end of 2008. On January 1, 2009, the contest is not yet decided.

Constitutional Crisis. As the new Democratic Congress convenes in early January 2009, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces her intention to declare the Presidency vacant on January 20, when George W. Bush will leave office. She proposes to ascend to the office, herself, by right of constitutionally defined succession, noting that a vacant presidency is “bad for the country”. Although lawsuits are filed with the Supreme Court to stop the move, Mrs. Pelosi declares that the Court lacks jurisdiction in the matter and that she will obey no ruling countering her claim.