By now, you’re probably sick of all those year-end reports telling you that the tight presidential election was the biggest story of 2000. No duh!

So, I won’t bore you with the typical garbage. Instead, I wish to reminisce for a few moments about some of the really important events — you know, the stories that make you grin or just shake your head in utter disbelief. In fact, all the stories you’ll see in my list had to pass very rigorous WND standards. They had to: 1) make me laugh; or 2) spill my beverage because they were so bizarre.

Gore v. Doll

Since everyone is still a bit juiced from the election, let me start with strange stories from the campaign. Everyone felt it was going to be a close race, but no one knew just how close, and votes for alternative candidates played a crucial role. Little did Mattel know that when the toy company had Barbie? Doll toss her tiny collection of hats in the ring.

Barbie turned Election 2000 into ‘Gore v. Doll’

The entry of Barbie into the race did pose problems for voters — especially those in Palm Beach — who had trouble telling the difference between the doll and Al Gore. Not only do they both have plastic smiles, but they also need the aid of others to create the illusion of movement. Good thing for Gore that feminists oppose Barbie, otherwise even more precious votes may have been siphoned away.

I think Ralph Nader would have done a bit better if he got more coverage of his goal for the Internet: having a dot-sucks domain name. This is precisely the kind of issue to which people relate, and it could have electrified the electorate.

The poor showing of Gary Bauer in the primaries had absolutely nothing to do with his stance on issues. He simply fell victim to a flu stalker who licked doorknobs at campaign headquarters, hoping to infect the candidate.

There were a couple of bizarre medical stories this year, including the man who had a surgeon amputate his healthy limb in order to make him feel complete. I don’t know about this guy, but I’m actually quite attached to my limbs, pardon the pun. Speaking of limbs, somewhere in the world there’s a hand looking to strangle the man to whom it belongs. Yes, a condition known as “Dr. Strangelove” syndrome exists, and while it’s by no means funny for those who have it, the thought of Peter Sellers giving an unstoppable Nazi salute with a “mindful hand” is enough to include it in the list.

Ladies and gentlemen, Wayne Newton!

The legal world is always a good place for a chuckle, especially when judges get creative with sentencing. Like the teen who was ordered to listen to “Danke Schoen” and other Wayne Newton tunes after blasting rap music in front of a police officer.

Remember the divorce granted to a man whose wife rearranged the furniture every single day of their 38-year marriage? Or the Australian town that outlawed any mention of the Olympics, despite the nation’s hosting of the Games? Or the Greek isle of Lesbos banning its namesake of lesbians on grounds of moral corruption?

And while God being sued by the Israelites for breach of covenant was only an April Fools Day joke, it’s still among the funniest stories of the year. We received plenty of e-mail from people not quite sure if that one was real.

Assailant: I marred a millionaire

Year 2000 saw Rick Rockwell lose his TV bride, Darva Conger, as well as his toenail

One more note about legal matters. I’m sure you remember how TV bride Darva Conger annulled her marriage with “millionaire” Rick Rockwell. Well, if you weren’t reading WND, you may have missed the follow-up about Rockwell getting his toenail ripped off during a motel scuffle. It’s one thing to be humiliated in front of a nation when your made-for-broadcast wife publicly spurns you. But having a toenail thrashed off at a North Dakota motel without even a camera present, that’s just beyond the pale.

I wasn’t sure if anything could top the most overlooked story of 1999, which was Namwan the monkey learning to bum cigarettes off of tourists, and then getting addicted. But nothing surprises me anymore. There were almost too many bizarre animal stories to report this year.

Chicken McNoggin

The most visible story was the one I lovingly dubbed Chicken McNoggin. I’m not sure how that chicken head got in the woman’s box of McDonald’s wings, but please note this occurred in the same year that Taco Bell fired its talking chihuahua and Pets.com canned its sock-puppet dog. Coincidence? I think not. Someone is clearly sending a message.

2000 was also the year when pigs finally were flying courtesy of U.S. Airways, TV viewers were smashing their screens because the roaches in an Orkin ad looked a little too real, and we witnessed the revenge of the baboons. Now I know why baboons have bare tushes — they sit around for days plotting vengeance.

Two honorable mentions from the animal kingdom actually have environmental connections. The first is farmers facing restrictions to cut down on cow flatulence. The second is a new theory that dinosaurs were wiped out by their own gas. I guess that would be the quintessential blast from the past. And no need to complain about the gamy nature of these selections. Flatulence is funny, get with the program. I know even the most austere of you are secretly cracking up when I say that.

On that note, one of the best quotes of the year came from 75-year-old Coolidge Winesett of Virginia who was trapped for three days in a collapsed outhouse: “I tell you what, it was hard to get one breath down there.”

But my favorite quote of the year comes from the Louisiana report about a hog-luggin’ Bigfoot spotted on the bayou: “When we saw it, Earl hollered at it, and it ran off down towards (the bayou).” As WND Commentary Editor Joel Miller pointed out to me, among all the names in this world, it had to be a guy named “Earl.” And what would one holler anyway when encountering a sasquatch?

The campus world was no disappointment for weirdness, including a schoolgirl handcuffed for eating french fries on her way home from class, children busted for pointing fingers like guns in a game of kindergarten cops and robbers and students physically attacked by marauding ghosts — what a great excuse for not having homework ready.

The funniest of 2000

And now for the moment you’ve been waiting for: the funniest news story of the year. It’s comforting to know that no matter how famous people get in life, there’s often a key moment that can bring them down to Earth in a flash. And that’s exactly what happened to our very own secretary of state, when Madeleine Albright was mistaken for a hotel maid.

Funniest story: ‘Maddie’ Albright mistaken for hotel maid

This story is delicious on so many different levels. It’s not just that Albright was thought to be the cleaning lady. She could have easily joked it off. But her launching into an untranslatable tirade of swearing is a tribute to her command of the English language. It makes me proud to be an American. She certainly could not have picked up any profanity in Washington. Wouldn’t it be great to have been a fly on the wall, hearing “Maddie” — as one WND reader dubbed her in honor of her new occupation — leave her personalized invective on unsuspecting Albanian diplomats? Maybe she was just in a bad mood about the laptops missing from the State Department. In any case, now that she’s leaving office, it’s very reassuring to know she has a fairly good shot at Holiday Inn.

With stories like these, it makes me wonder if 2001 can possibly live up to the levity of Y2K. Somehow, I sense that it will, and the editors of WND will do their best to bring it to you — that is, if they can stop howling with laughter.

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