Dave Barry’s Year in Review: “Is there anything positive we can say about 2021?”

From Dave Barry’s Year in Review on miamiherald.com:

Is there anything positive we can say about 2021?

Yes. We can say that it was marginally better than 2020. Granted, this is not high praise. It’s like saying that somebody is marginally nicer than Hitler.

But it’s something.

What was better about 2021? For one thing, people finally emerged from their isolated pandemic cocoons and started connecting with others. Granted, the vast majority of the people who connected with us this year wanted to discuss our car’s extended warranty. But still. Another improvement was that most stores got rid of those one-way anti-COVID arrows on the floor. Remember those, from 2020? You’d be halfway down a supermarket aisle, and you’d realize that you’d gone past the Cheez-Its, but you couldn’t turn around and go back because you’d be going AGAINST THE ARROWS, which meant YOU WOULD GET COVID.

Ha ha! Was that stupid, or what? Fortunately in 2021, we followed the Science, which decided that the coronavirus does not observe floor arrows. On the other hand, the Science could not make up its mind about masks, especially in restaurants. Should everybody in the restaurant wear them? Should only the staff wear them? Should people who are standing up wear them, but not people who are sitting down, which would seem to suggest that the virus can also enter our bodies via our butts? We still don’t know, and we can’t wait to find out what the Science will come up with for us next.

Anyway, our point is not that 2021 was massively better than 2020. Our point is that at least it was different. A variant, so to speak. And like any year, it had both highs and lows.

No, we take that back. It was pretty much all lows, as we will see when we review the key events of 2021, starting in…


…which dawns with all eyes on Washington, D.C., where President Donald Trump, as chief executive of the most powerful nation on Earth, is trying to get somebody to answer the intercom. This is difficult because pretty much everybody in his administration except Melania has bailed….

The spotlight now shifts to incoming President Joe Biden, who takes the oath of office in front of a festive throng of 25,000 National Guard troops. The national healing begins quickly as Americans, exhausted from years of division and strife, join together in exchanging memes of Bernie Sanders attending the inauguration wearing distinctive mittens and the facial expression of a man having his prostate examined by a hostile sea urchin….


With many difficult challenges facing the nation, Congress finally sets aside the bitter bipartisan wrangling of 2020 and moves forward to the pressing business of holding another impeachment trial for Donald Trump. In a scathing indictment of his involvement in the Capitol riot, the House Democratic impeachment managers charge that Trump, by feeding the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally “wild falsehoods” about the election, “is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day.”

No, wait, those aren’t the scathing words of the House managers: Those are the scathing words of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell! Who then votes to … acquit!…

In the month’s most positive news, the NASA rover “Perseverance,” after traveling 293 million miles through space, lands safely on the surface of Mars. Technically it was supposed to land on Venus, but as a NASA spokesperson observes, “a planet is a planet.” The rover sends back breathtaking video revealing that Mars has an environment consisting — as scientists have long suspected — of dirt.

In sports, the ageless Tom Brady leads the Tampa Bay Tom Bradys to victory in the Tom Brady Bowl, with the MVP trophy going to Tom Brady, who celebrates with his supermodel wife, Mrs. Tom Brady. Bite us, Tom Brady. Speaking of victories, in …


… Congressional Democrats pass the Biden administration’s COVID-19 relief package, which will cost $1.9 trillion, which the United States will pay for by selling baked goods to foreign nations. In a prime-time address after signing the bill, President Biden says there is “a good chance” that Americans will be able to gather together “by July the Fourth.” He does not specify which one….

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in their ongoing effort to escape the unbearable scrutiny resulting from their association with the British royal family, spend two hours on national TV talking with Oprah Winfrey about the British royal family. Plans are announced for a concert to benefit the beleaguered couple, headlined by Willie Nelson….

But as winter turns to spring, the national mood begins to shift, and in …


… a new spirit of racial harmony spreads across the land, a spirit that is best described by the words “April Fool.” But seriously, the national mood remains racially tense. A major issue is Georgia’s new voting law, which critics say targets minorities, and which prompts Major League Baseball to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta….

There is some welcome news on the COVID-19 front as the CDC declares that it is not necessary to wear a face mask “provided that you are fully vaccinated, and you are outdoors, and you are part of a small gathering, and everybody in this gathering has also been fully vaccinated, and all of you periodically, as a precaution, emit little whimpers of terror.” The CDC adds that “we, personally, plan to spend the next five to ten years locked in our bedroom.”

President Biden, in his first speech to Congress, promotes his infrastructure plan, which would cost $2.3 trillion, and his American Families plan, which would cost $1.8 trillion, with both plans to be funded by what the president describes as a “really big car wash.”

In other executive-branch news, Major, one of the two official Biden administration German shepherds, is sent away from the White House for what a spokesperson calls “additional training.” Since moving into the executive mansion, Major has bitten two people, one of whom was a Secret Service agent, although reportedly not the same one who was bitten by Rudy Giuliani….

In other state news — this is a true item — Randy Quaid announces via tweet that he is “seriously considering” running for governor of California against Caitlyn Jenner. We see no need to add a punchline here.

In space news, the NASA Mars rover “Perseverance” deploys “Ingenuity,” an $80 million mini-helicopter that becomes the first aircraft to make a flight on another planet, ascending to an altitude of nearly 10 feet, from which vantage point scientists on Earth are able to determine that the Martian environment consists of what a NASA spokesperson describes as “even more dirt than we originally thought.”…


President Biden proposes a fiscal 2022 federal budget of $6 trillion, to be raised by what the White House describes as “an exciting new partnership with Herbalife.” In other administration news, Major the former White House dog escapes from his rehabilitation facility and robs a convenience store.


President Biden goes to Europe to participate in an important and historic photo opportunity with the other leaders of the G7 economic powers, which are Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Google, Facebook and Mattress Giant. In a formal joint statement issued after the meeting, the leaders declare that everybody had, quote, “a nice time.” Biden also meets with Queen Elizabeth II, who has met with every U.S. president since we started having them.

Biden then goes to Geneva for a summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which Biden warns Putin that these darned Russian hackers better stop hacking into the U.S. infrastructure, or by golly we are going to call shenanigans. Putin insists that Russia has nothing to do with the hacking or “any future hacking incidents currently in the planning stages.”…

In sadder administration news, Champ, the other White House dog, passes away. Major, speaking through his legal team, declares that he has an alibi.

U.S. intelligence officials release a much-anticipated report on UFOs contradicting speculation that mysterious aerial phenomena observed by military pilots are extraterrestrial spacecraft. “In fact,” concludes the report, “it’s dragons.”

In other space news, the rover “Perseverance” celebrates its fourth month on Mars by deploying “Fortitude,” a $279 million rotating multifaceted reflective sphere believed to be the first fully operational disco ball on another planet. But the news turns grim again in…


…as COVID-19, which we thought was almost over — this is like the eighth or ninth time we have thought this — appears to be surging again in certain areas because of the “Delta Variant,” which gets its name from the fact that it is spread primarily by fraternities….

In the month’s most upbeat story, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos pioneer a new era in billionaire leisure travel by going up in private suborbital spacecraft….Space enthusiasts say these missions will pave the way toward a future in which ordinary people with millions of spare dollars will be able to travel from one part of a state to a completely different part of that state while wearing matching outfits….

In Tokyo, the pandemic-delayed 2020 Olympic games (motto: “Later, Smaller, Sadder”) finally get underway with the majestic Nasal Swab of Nations. This is followed by the ceremonial lighting of the Olympic Torch, which for safety reasons is a small vanilla-scented bath candle that is immediately extinguished to prevent it from attracting crowds. Let the games begin!

In other sports news, major NCAA rules changes allow college athletes to cash in on name, image and likeness for the first time ever, wink wink….

Meanwhile the Cleveland Indians, responding to mounting public pressure, announce that they are officially changing their name to the Washington Redskins.

The month ends with the Delta-variant surge worsening, bringing back mask mandates and social-distancing requirements as health experts, government officials and the media join together to convey the following clear, consistent and reassuring message to the public:

— You should get vaccinated, because the vaccine will make you safe. — But remember that even if you get vaccinated, you can still get infected. — Also you can infect others and kill them.

— So just because you’re vaccinated, don’t go around thinking you’re safe.


Speaking of confusion, the big story in …


… is the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, a country that, thanks to 20 years of our involvement, has been transformed — at a cost of many lives and more than $2 trillion — from a brutal, primitive undemocratic society into a brutal, primitive undemocratic society with a whole lot of abandoned American military hardware lying around. Most Americans agree that we have accomplished our mission, which is the same mission that the Russians had in Afghanistan before us, and the British had before them; namely, to get the hell out of Afghanistan.

The Biden administration, noting that the president has more than 140 years of experience reading Teleprompter statements about foreign policy, assures everyone that it has a Sound Exit Plan allowing for Every Possible Contingency, and insists that the withdrawal is going well. This assessment is confirmed by observers on the ground, particularly Jen Psaki, with the ground in her case being the White House Press Briefing Room. Observers who are actually in Kabul paint a somewhat darker picture of the withdrawal, more along the lines of what would have happened if the Hindenburg had crashed into the Titanic during a soccer riot.

It is a tragic time for America, particularly our military, but it is also a time when we are reminded that when things go bad, we are a nation whose leaders can be relied upon to step up and not take personal responsibility. The Biden people blame Trump, for naively making a bad deal with the Taliban; the Trump people blame Biden, for botching the exit.

So in the end — this is the beauty of our current political environment — everybody has somebody else to blame, and nobody is responsible. American leadership has come a long way since the days of Dwight Eisenhower, who, on the eve of D-Day, wrote a short, plainly worded letter, to be published if the invasion failed, in which he said that the blame was his alone. What a loser.


The COVID-19 vaccine controversy escalates when distinguished rapper/epidemiologist Nicki Minaj issues a tweet stating that her cousin in Trinidad had a friend who got vaccinated and became impotent and his man fruits swelled up and his fiancée canceled their wedding. We are not making this up….

Eventually the story peters out and America moves on, but not before our national average IQ has dropped at least 15 points. In the ongoing 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump — who insists that there was MASSIVE FRAUD in Arizona and he actually beat Joe Biden — is finally vindicated when a company hired by the Republican-controlled state senate to review the ballots concludes that….

OK, it concludes that Trump did, in fact, lose; in fact he lost by even more votes than originally reported. Trump, reacting to this finding, declares that it proves there was MASSIVE FRAUD in Arizona and he actually beat Joe Biden. And thus the healing begins.

In other state news, voters in California, which operates under the Perpetual Recall system of government, decide that for the time being they will keep Gov. Gavin Newsom, who campaigned on the slogan “The Other Candidates Are Even Worse.”


Democrats spend the entire month engaged in increasingly frantic efforts to reach some kind of budget agreement with themselves, even going so far as to consider reducing the $3.5 trillion to only $1.75 trillion, which in Washington is viewed as barely enough for gratuities. Meanwhile the Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, sit around getting pedicures. President Biden, for his part, takes several trips to Delaware. Vice President Harris also engages in important activities. But the big story is the worsening economy, which is showing a number of disturbing trends:

— Inflation continues to be a pesky problem, with food prices soaring and gasoline approaching $4 per gallon everywhere in the nation except California, where, for environmental reasons, it is $137.50.

— The labor shortage has become so severe that for the first time since it began keeping records, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which produces a monthly report on the nation’s employment situation, does not have enough workers to produce the monthly report….

Facebook suffers a worldwide outage lasting several harrowing hours, during which billions of people are forced to obtain all of their misinformation from Twitter. Later in the month Facebook Chief Execudroid Mark Zuckerberg announces that, to better reflect Facebook’s vision for the future, the parent company is changing its name to the Washington Redskins.

But there is also inspiring news in October, provided by 90-year-old actor William Shatner, who boards a Blue Origin suborbital capsule and successfully travels from one part of Texas to another part of Texas in a subhistoric mission lasting 10 minutes, including two bathroom stops….


As Biden heads to Glasgow, a city located in Scotland or possibly Wales, to participate in COP26, a 190-nation conference on climate change attended by 30,000 political leaders, diplomats, bureaucrats, experts, spokespersons, observers, aides, minions, private-jet pilots and of course Leonardo DiCaprio. After an incalculable number of catered meals and lengthy impassioned speeches making the points that (1) the climate crisis is real, (2) this is an emergency, (3) the time for action is NOW, (4) we cannot afford to wait ONE DAY longer, and (5) WE ARE NOT KIDDING AROUND THIS IS SERIOUS DAMMIT, the participating nations hammer out a historic agreement declaring, in no uncertain terms, that they will definitely, no excuses this time, gather next year for another conference….

But the big November excitement takes place in Washington, where Congress finally passes the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, intended to repair the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges through the acquisition and deployment of 48 billion rolls of duct tape. This is the first big legislative win for Biden, who travels to New Hampshire to promote the new law by making a speech on a bridge constructed in 1939….

During this time Vice President Harris also is very involved in various things that she is doing.

In a stunning political upset, Terry McAuliffe, the heavily favored Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia, is defeated by Republican Glenn Youngkin, a political novice. Exit polls show that the deciding issue, especially among independent voters, was the fact that the letters in “Glenn Youngkin” can be rearranged to spell “Nun Lying On Keg,” whereas “Terry McAuliffe” gives you “A Firefly Rectum.”…

On the economic front, the Biden administration, seeking to counteract the steep rise in gasoline prices, orders the Energy Department to release 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Within minutes a dozen towns in east Texas are flattened by an oil wave estimated to be 200 feet high. “Apparently,” states a red-faced department spokesperson, “you’re supposed to release the oil into a pipeline.”

Meanwhile, in response to a global shortage of maple syrup, the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers announce that they are releasing 50 million pounds of syrup from their strategic reserve. You probably think we are making this item up, but we are not….


In federal-budget news, congressional leaders, facing what we are required, by the rules of professional journalism, to describe as a Looming Deadline, work feverishly to prevent an unprecedented partial shutdown of the government for the 27th or 28th time. Finally they hammer out a deal under which the government will be temporarily funded via a loan from an individual named Vinny, to be repaid in cash by Feb. 18 or else Vinny takes legal possession of the nuclear aircraft carrier of his choice.

No, that would be insane. Although not as insane as the way we actually fund the federal government.

The big economic story continues to be inflation, which is the worst it has been for decades, with the hardest-hit victims being low-income consumers and major college-football programs, which are being forced to pay tens of millions of dollars to obtain the services of even mediocre head coaches….

In international news, President Biden and Russian President Putin have a two-hour video call to discuss the situation in Ukraine, with a White House spokesperson reporting that the two leaders made “encouraging progress” toward locating the unmute button….

In holiday-season news, travel in the Midwest is snarled when the U.S. Department of Agriculture, seeking to alleviate a shortage of Christmas hams, releases 17 million head of pig from the Strategic Pork Reserve, blocking every major road into and out of Iowa and causing the region to smell, in the words of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, “even worse than usual.”…

Finally, mercifully, the troubled year nears its conclusion. As the nation prepares to celebrate New Year’s Eve, the mood is subdued and thoughtful. People are still getting drunk and throwing up, but they’re doing this in a subdued and thoughtful manner. Because nobody knows what 2022 will bring. Will it suck as much as this year? Will it suck more? Or will it suck a LOT more? These appear to be our choices.

Perhaps, as we face the new year, we should look beyond the confines of our troubled planet for reasons to hope. Perhaps we can turn for inspiration to the plucky NASA rover Perseverance, which, as 2021 draws to a close, sends a message back to Earth across millions of miles of space. It’s a simple message, but one that resonates deeply with all of humanity: Perseverance has detected omicron on Mars.

OK, so that’s not very hopeful. But don’t let it stop you from ringing in 2022 on a festive note. For one night, forget about the bad things. Be festive, party hard, and, in the words of Dr. Anthony Fauci, “lower your mask before you throw up.”

Happy New Year.


  1. As usual, well written., Barry!!

  2. Claudia Dutra says

    My thoughts exactly. Thank you for the summary.

  3. Laugh out loud, even about White House doggy problems,

    Martha in SC where masks are on about 3 people out of 20, inside…

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