At this time of year, newspapers, magazines, and TV shows are filled with retrospectives of the past year: "Top 10 News stories"; "Top 10 Sports Stories"; "Top 10 Drunken Celebrity Mishaps," etc.
Not this column, by golly. We believe in looking forward, not back. So, as always, we bring you 2013: the year in PRE-view:
JANUARY: House Republicans vote to replace John Boehner as speaker of the House with actor/director Clint Eastwood.
"We read an article by this guy from the American Enterprise Institute that pointed out that there's nothing in the Constitution requiring the speaker to actually be a member," says House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, "and everyone here really loves Clint. He's the guy that won the election for Romney."
When a reporter points out that Mitt Romney did not actually win the election and that the majority of Americans who saw Eastwood's argument with an empty chair at the RNC regarded the performance as an embarrassment, Cantor and other Republicans in the vicinity put their hands over their ears and chant, "We're not listening, we're not listening, na na na..."
FEBRUARY: Fox News commentators join forces with right-wing religious organizations to demand the resignation of President Obama after he refers to the Feb. 14 holiday as "Valentine's Day."
"It's SAINT Valentine's Day!" thunders Catholic League President William A. Donohue. Bill O'Reilly chimes in, saying, "The fact that this so-called 'president' refuses to honor an obscure saint who no one really knows anything about just illustrates his implacable hatred and hostility toward religion."
MARCH: House Republicans refuse to authorize an increase in the country's debt ceiling unless the administration agrees to cut three months out of the calendar year.
"We're in a lot of debt in these debt-filled times of great debt," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says. "We can't afford all these months where we just have more and more debt, because we're very concerned about debt. Debt. Debt. Debt. Also, Greece."
APRIL: Following the success of the first installment of Peter Jackson's film version of "The Hobbit" (which stretches the shortest of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth novels into three movies, each nearly three hours long), Jackson announces his new project: a four-part, 16-hour filmed version of the children's book "Pat the Bunny."
MAY: House Republicans defend Speaker Clint Eastwood's "interview" with "60 Minutes," which is actually just Eastwood screaming at a picture of reporter Lara Logan propped up on a sofa.
"He really schooled that socialist [bad word]," North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry chortles to what he thinks is an interviewer from Fox News, but is actually a hatrack in the House cloakroom.
JUNE: After five people are shot by an assault-rifle-wielding gunman in a Piggly Wiggly store in Birmingham, Ala., NRA President Wayne LaPierre holds a press conference demanding that grocery clerks, stock people and bag boys be armed with handguns.
JULY: Unfazed by national criticism of its "Stand Your Ground" law, Florida enacts the "What Are YOU Lookin' At?" law, which allows gun owners to shoot anyone they "reasonably believe is eyeballing them in a suspicious or threatening manner."
Founder Mark Zuckerberg explains: "If you join Facebook, you agree to let our employees come to your house and look through your stuff. But don't worry. We won't misuse the information. We promise."
SEPTEMBER: A deranged man shoots four garbage collectors with an assault rifle, then kills himself. NRA President Wayne LaPierre holds a press conference demanding that all garbage trucks be armored and equipped with gun turrets.
OCTOBER: A Justice Department investigation of the three largest American banks determines that the banks engaged in money-laundering for drug cartels and terrorist organizations and defrauded investors out of billions. It also turns up evidence that bank executives were personally involved in major narcotics trafficking, gun-running, prostitution, murder for hire, convenience store robberies, and shoplifting.
The Justice Department, however, follows the pattern it has established in previous investigations and refuses to pursue criminal indictments.
"You know how it is," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer announces with a shrug. "They're bankers. Mess with them and they might get mad and collapse the economy again." Breuer, however, promises that the civil settlements with the banksters will include a "very stern talking to."
NOVEMBER: Retailers Walmart and Best Buy create an uproar when they announce that their "Black Friday" pre-Christmas sales will now begin on Veterans Day. Consumers complain bitterly as they line up to get $199 50-inch flat-screen TVs.
DECEMBER: Not to be outdone by its competitors, Target announces that its Black Friday sales for 2014 will begin on Dec. 26, 2013.
Like it or not, here comes another year....