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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE...

During the first four months of 2012, there were newsworthy events in the areas of science, world affairs, the economy, health, entartainment, education, war, civil rights, energy, sports and weather.

But if there was one thread that wound its way through January, February, March and April, it was this: for the good of the country, Republicans need to spend some serious "me time" on an ice floe. Everything about them sucked, from their policies (forced transvaginal ultrasounds? Really? Go back to the gold standard? Really???) to their incompetence running primaries to declarinng de facto war on our nation's minorities, they brought back the Gilded Age with a vengeance.

C&J kept tabs on all the silly sturm and daffy drang of the last 12 months, and below the fold is the first of our three-part series called 2012: Is It 2013 Yet? It's a pastiche of newsy bits, gobsmacking stats, amazing pics and the best of the late-night snark. By the time you finish, you'll feel like the sanest person in the room.

Your wormhole to the past opens up below the fold... [Swoosh!!] Right now! [Gong!!]

C&J 2012 Flashback: January

President Barack Obama hugs Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., on the floor of the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., before delivering the State of the Union address, Jan. 24, 2012.
Jan. 24: President Barack Obama hugs Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on the floor of the House
Chamber before delivering the State of the Union address.
• The winner of the GOP Iowa caucus is someone who, if elected president, will facilitate a double-dip recession, cause a spike in the unemployment rate, sign Medicare-killing austerity measures into law, and get steamrolled by a Second Coming of the neocons. The name attached to the individual is inconsequential.

• Michele Bachmann, once the Republican frontrunner, bows out of the presidential race after getting her corn dog handed to her on a platter in Iowa.

• President Obama recess-appoints Richard Cordray as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and also recess-appoints the National Labor Relations Board back to its five-member capacity.  It's a very good day for those who want government to work better on behalf of average Americans. Or as Republicans call it: a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

• In northeast Ohio, fracking causes a dozen minor earthquakes.  Downside: fracking-related earthquakes are inherently bad.  Upside: who doesn’t dream about having their own vibrating massage bed?

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[Clip of Michele Bachmann bowing-out speech in Iowa]: Yesterday when we were out on Main Street in Des Moines, [my husband] was out buying doggie sunglasses for our dog Boomer while we were out visiting the many businesses.
Jon Stewart: To be fair, nothing salves the wound of a sixth-place finish like a dog wearing sunglasses.
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Clip of Jon Huntsman interview: They pick corn in Iowa. They actually pick presidents here in New Hampshire.
Stephen Colbert: Yes! New Hampshire picks presidents!  Just ask Presidents Buchanan, Tsongas and Kefauver.
-

• At a New Hampshire rally for Mitt Romney, John McCain absent-mindedly says, "I am confident, with the leadership and the backing of the American people, President Obama will turn this country around."  Romney, in his first major test of crisis management, immediately craps his custom-tailored slacks, puts the old man in a headlock and gags him with an argyle sock.

• Iraq's homemade-bomb-making business is booming.  Afghanistan is still #1 in rubble management.

Time magazine features a photo of New Hampshire primary winner Mitt Romney with the caption: So you like me now?  The "No" is deafening.

By the Numbers:

Estimated number of babies who will be born in the U.S. this year: 4 million
Age of the Golden Gate Bridge in 2012: 75
Percent of U.S. adults who smoked in 1965 and now, respectively: 42%, 19%
(Source: CDC)
Age of the video game "Pong" as of this year: 40

• In New Guinea, a newly-discovered frog that can fit on a dime is believed to be the smallest animal with a spine.  The congressional tea party caucus remains the smallest-minded animals with or without a spine.

• NASA reports that the spacecraft carrying the Mars probe Curiosity has been firing its thrusters this week.  In response, the American Family Association calls for an immediate boycott of NASA for promoting such disgusting behavior.

Jan. 9, 2012: Members of the Price family watch as President Barack Obama presents the Defense Superior Service Medal to departing Military Aide Lt. Col. Sam Price in the Oval Office.
Jan. 9: Members of the Price family watch as President Barack Obama presents the Defense Superior
Service Medal to departing Military Aide Lt. Col. Sam Price in the Oval Office.
• The 112th "Hell No You Can't" Congress reconvenes.  On the schedule: extending the Social Security payroll tax for another year, raising the debt ceiling, naming more post offices, and re-affirming "not intended to be a factual statement" as the official motto of the GOP.  On the Senate schedule: lots of long naps.

• The Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia runs aground off the coast of Italy.  The accident immediately earns the #1 position in this year's Book of Big Lists.

By the Numbers:

Minimum amount you have to contribute to Rick Santorum's presidential campaign to get your own sweater vest: $100
Doomsday Clock time in 2011 and 2012: 11:54, 11:55
Amount Tampa's Penthouse Club is spending on getting spiffed up for the Republican National Convention: $1,000,000
(Source: Harper's Index)

• Jon Huntsman bows out of the GOP race.  During his campaign, sales of Mandarin Chinese language-learning CDs skyrocketed among the Republican base by a whopping zero percent.

• Newt Gingrich thinks children would make excellent janitors.  Yeah, because kids are such neat freaks.

• President Obama says "No!"---for now---to construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.  A visibly upset John Boehner quickly issues a response: "Not fair---that's our word!"

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"Rick Perry has dropped out of the presidential race. Apparently, America did not want a conservative, gun happy, intellectually-challenged governor of Texas for president.  At least not again."
---Jay Leno
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"When Mitt Romney says, ‘The buck stops here,’ he means literally: 'I have your money. Fuck you.'"
---Bill Maher
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• The Oscar nominations in a nutshell: At Midnight in Paris The Descendants of Hugo got on their War Horse and went to see The Artist who lived next to The Tree of Life to get The Help they needed in finding their Moneyball, which was easy because it was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

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February
-

Feb. 11: A child reaches out to First Lady Michelle Obama in Longwood, Florida on the second anniversary of the
Feb. 11: A child reaches out to First Lady Michelle Obama in Longwood, Florida
on the second anniversary of the "Let's Move!" initiative.
• A Federal appeals court rules that California's Proposition 8 violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause, but continues putting a hold on same-sex marriages in the state until the appeal can be appealed.  Marriage-equality advocates complain that the process is moving at the speed of tortoise until they're reminded who won that particular race.

• Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords gets a U.S. Navy warship named after her.  Shortly afterward, Jared Loughner gulps really hard.

By the Numbers:

Rank of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the list of longest-reigning living royals: #1 (65 years)
Rank of Queen Elizabeth II: #2 (60 years)
(Source: USA Today)
Number of registered Kossacks on, respectively, February 1, 2007 and February 1, 2012: 117,029 / 332,587
(Source: jotter)
Expected turnout for the GOP Nevada caucus and the actual turnout, respectively: 70,000 / 32,930
(Source: The Maddow Blog)

• Whitney Houston is found dead at 48 in a hotel bathtub.  Her five-octave pipes were awesome.  Her crack pipes, less so.

• Adele wins every single award at the Grammys except for the category called "Five Songs Not By Adele."

• Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire signs a gay marriage bill into law, and New Jersey's legislature passes one of its own.  Both will likely end up getting an up-or-down vote from the people.  Because, of course, constitutional rights are a popularity contest.

• Adele pre-sweeps the Oscars and becomes the odds-on favorite to win the Daytona 500.

-

“Mitt Romney will now receive protection from the Secret Service.  Not to be outdone, Ron Paul will now receive protection from a mall cop on a Segway.”
---Jimmy Fallon
-
Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney all said that if elected president they would eliminate porn.  In a related story, President Obama has already been re-elected.
---Conan O'Brien
-

• Update on the rest of the world.  Libya: pissed.  Yemen: pissed.  Iran: pissed.  Greece: pissed.  Syria: pissed.  Britain: pissed.  Portugal: pissed.  Egypt: pissed.  Pakistan: pissed.  Spain: pissed.  Palestime: pissed.  Afghanistan: pissed.  Israel: pissed.  Iraq: pissed.  Sweden: Happy!

• The Nobel prizes in Physics, Chemistry and Medicine go to Adele.

February marked two straight years of private-sector job growth--including the first year-over-year gains in manufacturing jobs since 1997.
February marked two straight years of private-sector job growth--including
the first year-over-year gains in manufacturing jobs since 1997.
• Congressman Darrel Issa holds Appropriations Committee hearings on women's birth control coverage with an all-male panel of witnesses.  Issa later schedules hearings on Mexican immigration with a panel of French people and the future of NASA with a panel of lobbyists from the buggy whip industry.

• Rick Santorum's pet billionaire Foster Friess explains to a flummoxed Andrea Mitchell that in the old days "gals" practiced contraception by "putting Bayer aspirin between their knees."  "Well stated, sir!" said no one on the planet.

By the Numbers:

Length of the uprising in Syria thus far: 11 months
Percent of voters who say they support the federal requirement that health insurance plans cover the cost of birth control: 65%
(Source: NYT/CBS News poll)
Percent of Catholic women who support the requirement: 59%
(Source: PPP survey)
Rise in viewership of Knicks games since Jeremy Lin took over as a starter: 70%
(Source: Time)
Time it takes America's pop culture media machine to make a majority of Americans sick of hearing about Jeremy Lin: 1 week

• Adele wins the National Baking Championship. The girl's on a roll.

• The Daytona 500 features professionals---including winner Matt Kenseth---expending a lot of fuel to go 'round and 'round in circles but not actually get anywhere, while occasionally bumping into walls, catching fire and watching their wheels come off.  They should've called it the RNC 2012.

• Maine Senator Olympia Snowe announces that she's calling it quits.  Within hours the front-runner to replace her is Adele.

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March
-

March 15, 2012: Vice President Joe Biden stumps in Toledo, Ohio.
March 15: Vice President Joe Biden stumps in Toledo, Ohio.
• Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signs a gay-marriage bill into law.  It will likely be put to a referendum vote in November as the right-wingers gather their signatures.  Their bumper sticker slogan: "Over Our Dead Divorce Papers!"

• After calling her "slut" and a "prostitute," Rush Limbaugh rails against Georgetown student Sandra Fluke for expressing her opinion about contraception coverage in Obamacare: "If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it.  We want you post the videos online so we can all watch."  Fluke says she doesn’t care what Rush says, and says helping improve women's health "is why I've been working on this---for years, honestly."  Limbaugh immediately rushes to find a dictionary and look up the word honestly.

-

"Newt Gingrich said we should use covert operations to assassinate Iran's nuclear scientists.  Gingrich also said the key to covert operations is announcing them on the campaign trail."
---Conan O'Brien
-

• The American president with the funny name sits down with the Israeli president with the funny name to discuss what to do about the Iranian president with the funny name.

• Vladimir Putin officially re-wins the Russian presidency.  He celebrates by ripping off his shirt and wrestling a bear while pulling an S-300 missile launcher through Red Square with his teeth.

By the Numbers:

Percent of Americans who now believe the earth is getting warmer, up from 55% in the spring of 2011: 62%
(Source: University of Michigan/Muhlenberg College survey)
Number of daily record high temperatures reported in the U.S. between January 1 and February 27: 3,854
(Source: The Weather Channel via USA Today)
Percent of Americans who believed the quality of their healthcare would go down as a result of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and now, respectively: 47%, 32%
(Source: AP GfK poll)
Average starting salary for an undergrad and grad student, respectively, in the video game design field: $54,054 / $62,862
(Source: Entertainment Software Association)

• President Obama straps on Jetpack One and flies to Mount Holly, North Carolina, to talk about the economy at a Daimler Truck plant.  Vice President Biden is quietly escorted to the break room after he keeps pumping his fist in the air to get the truck assemblers to honk their horns.

• The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing "Examining lending discrimination practices and foreclosure abuses."  Moments after the witnesses are excused, the committee members all report that their wallets have been stolen.

March 17, 2012: President Obama visits the Dubliner, an Irish pub in Washington, D.C., with his Irish cousin, Henry Healy (c) and Ollie Hayes (r), a pub owner in Moneygall, Ireland.
March 17: President Obama visits the Dubliner, an Irish pub in Washington, D.C., with
his Irish cousin, Henry Healy (c) and Ollie Hayes (r), a pub owner in Moneygall, Ireland.
• Mitt Romney wins the Washington caucus.  That, by the way, is the only time you'll ever see me use "Mitt Romney," "wins" and "Washington" in the same sentence.

• Ethically-challenged far-right blowhard blogger Andrew Breitbart dies of a heart attack at 43.  Or, as his followers put it: he was assassinated by a CIA agent with a heart-stopping drug on orders of President Obama on behalf of the Muslim brotherhood.  But we'll just put down heart attack.

-

“Happy birthday to Mitt Romney. He’s 65 years old. At his party, he didn't blow out the candles.  He gave a speech and the candles just flickered and died.”
---Jay Leno
-
"Rick Santorum won Alabama and Mississippi.  Mitt Romney won Hawaii and American Samoa. Here's a little mnemonic device to help you remember: places you can get to in a Winnebago go to Santorum.  Places that require a jet or a yacht go to Romney."
---Jon Stewart
-

• The Occupy movement celebrates its six-month anniversary in Zuccotti Park with a peaceful display of drumming, chalk art, costumes, and gentle calls for a narrowing of the income-equality gap.  The NYPD also marks the six-month anniversary by showing up to put on a display of their freedom fists and offer free buggy rides to the local jail for some quality squalor time in zip-cuffs.  No refreshments are served.

• Seventeen year-old Florida student Trayvon Martin, heavily armed with Skittles and a bottle of iced tea, is shot and killed by an overzealous neighborhood watch Rambo-wannabe named George Zimmerman, who ignores a police order to stay in his vehicle. Zimmerman claims he was defending himself under the state's "stand your ground" law.  Not surprisingly, the NRA has nothing to say about the unfortunate incident, as the victim is unwhite.

By the Numbers:

Number of slots occupied on the current Billboard Top 40 Albums chart by either Whitney Houston or The Monkees, in the wake of the deaths of Houston and Davy Jones: 8
Estimated dollar value of mobile phones lost in the U.S. last year: $30 billion
Rank of Philadelphia, Seattle and Oakland among cities where mobile phones are most frequently lost: #1, #2, #3
(Source: Lookout Labs via USA Today)
Cost to buy the last set of hardcover Encyclopaedia Britannicas: $1,395

Hunger Games opens! Hunger Games opens! Hunger Games opens! Hunger Games opens! Hunger Games opens!  For the future record: Hunger Games mania bored me silly before being bored silly by Hunger Games mania was cool.

• A Nebraska woman sells a chicken McNugget bearing the likness of George Washington on eBay for $8,100.  The father of our country's legacy is then slightly revised to, "First in war.  First in peace.  And delicious dunked in honey mustard sauce."

-

"A hooded sweatshirt can make an innocent teen look like a criminal. Just like a suit and glasses can make Geraldo Rivera look like a journalist."
---Stephen Colbert
-
 “You know who hates March Madness? Rick Santorum. It combines the two things he hates most: college and putting something in a hole.”
---Bill Maher
-

• Much of the world marks Earth Hour by turning off all their lights at home to help promote awareness of climate change and energy conservation.  Fossil fuel-loving Republicans celebrate in their own special way: lights on, nobody home.

• After a clash of egos with management, Keith Olbermann gets booted from Current TV, bringing to an end his popular Countdown show.  He cries all the way to the bank and spends the rest of his days posting sunsets on twitter from a wingback chair while wearing three-piece-suit pajamas.

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April
-

April 4, 2012: President Obama greets the Zion Baptist Church Children's Choir before the Easter Prayer Breakfast in the Blue Room of the White House.
April 4: President Obama greets the Zion Baptist Church Children's Choir before the
Easter Prayer Breakfast in the Blue Room of the White House.
• In Pakistan, a court levies punishment against three of Osama bin Laden's wives. The sentence is 45 days in prison---one for being in Pakistan illegally and 44 for having terrible taste in men.

• Dick Cheney, his health fully insured by the federal government, goes home from the hospital.  His new heart is blindfolded, shackled and renditioned separately in a black helicopter.

• The President and First Lady host the 2012 Easter Egg Roll on the south lawn of the White House.  The child who finds the coveted "golden egg" wins a billionaire backer for his or her future senior class president election campaign.

• Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio suffers a brief moment of lucidity. It quickly passes.

By the Numbers:

Percent of U.S. adults who say Social Security will be their top source of income during their retirement years: 65%
Percent of the U.S. population that was white in, respectively, 1940 and 2010: 90%, 72%
(Source: Census Bureau)
Number of U.S. cities that could get flooded by rising sea levels over the next 100 years: 544
Number of people who would be affected: 3.7 million
(Source: Climate Central via AP)
Metal bands per 100,000 people in the U.S. and Finland, respectively: 5.5 / 53.5
(Source: Time)

• America's Republican governors issue a joint statement of apology to their supporters after they realize they've gone a full day without signing a piece of legislation into law that would put a woman's health further at risk.

• Neighborhood watch volunteer-turned-vigilante George Zimmerman is ordered to face a jury of his peers on charges of second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvin Martin.  [Nancy Grace does cartwheels in front of the courthouse, shouting "Wheeee!!!!"]  We hope it doesn't turn into a circus.

• North Korea's long-range rocket lasts 81 seconds before falling back to earth and ending its flight as a disastrous failure.  For those of you keeping score of the new Dear Leader's rocket tests, Kim Jong Jr. is now oh-for-Un.

-

Clip of Rick Santorum concession speech: Miracle after miracle, this race was as improbable as any race that you will ever see for president.
Jon Stewart: Really? Any race ever? Like, I dunno, were you alive in 2008, when a black guy name Barack Hussein Obama beat a 48-term war-hero senator and his flag pin of a running mate?
---The Daily Show
-
"Over the weekend, Mitt Romney was actually spotted body-boarding in California. Romney would've gone surfing but, y'know, he hates standing for something."
---Jimmy Fallon
-

• The Pulitzer Prizes are announced, and include Kossack Matt Wuerker for winning the prize in editorial cartooning, with a hat tip to finalist Matt Bors.  One award that wasn't given out this year was the one for fiction.  But they've got a slam dunk for next year.  "The Ryan budget."

• President Obama spends a weekend in Colombia at a summit dominated by thoughtful discussions and agreements among nations Secret Service Hooker Scandal Secret Service Hooker Scandal Secret Service Hooker Scandal Secret Service Hooker Scandall!!!  The military says it's embarrassed by the incident, and they promise that those involved will be punished.  Starting with a firm slap on the wrist walkie-talkie.

April 19, 2012: Only 200 days to go until Election Day  
April 19
• The Space Shuttle Discovery does it doggie-style with a 747 one last time before retiring to a life of aeronautic chastity at the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum.  For its many years of service, it gets the Employee of the Month parking space for May and a free can of Turtle Wax.

• Thing I Pledge to Do for Mother Earth on Earth Day: Dispose of my spent fuel rods properly instead of selling them as glowsticks at raves.

By the Numbers:

Estimated number of radical right-wing "patriot" and militia groups in, respectively, 2010 and 2011: 824 / 1,274
(Source: Southern Poverty Law Center via TPM)
Percent of Americans who believe that "Medicare should continue as it is today, with the government … paying doctors and hospitals directly for the services they provide to seniors": 64%
(Source: United Technologies/National Journal poll)
Percent of 18-to-24 year olds who believe Christianity in America is "judgmental" and "too anti-gay," respectively: 62%, 64%
(Source: Public Religion Research Institute/Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs poll)

• Newt Gingrich, the candidate who handily won the South Carolina primary and therefore will absolutely, positively win the Republican nomination for president, gets bit by a penguin at a zoo, thus confirming a long-held suspicion that the former Speaker is really a giant herring in a human bodysuit.

• Al Gore is inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame for his significant role in bringing it to the masses.  No word if the Supreme Court plans to steal that from him, too.

• Rush Limbaugh blasts Daily Kos after Jed Lewison compiles dozens of Rush's misogynist statements about law student Sandra Fluke and posts them online.  Limbaugh gets the video pulled from You Tube, but they just get posted on other platforms Rush can't touch.  Little known fact: if you play the video backwards it confirms: the walrus was indeed Paul.

-

Jimmy Fallon reading a tweet: If Mitt Romney was in the room right now, what would you say to him?"
President Obama: I'd say, 'Hey, Mitt.'
-
"Scientists reported that baboons are capable of recognizing words. Though it seems the two words they can't recognize are 'Stop' and 'Masturbating.'"
---Seth Meyers
-

• Round 1 of the NFL draft begins.  Moments after he hears the word "draft," Ted Nugent instinctively shits his pants.

• President Obama names this year's Medal of Freedom winners: Madeleine Albright, John Doar, Bob Dylan, William Foege, John Glenn, Gordon Hirabayashi, Dolores Huerta, Jan KarskiKarski, Juliette, Girl Scouuts founder Gordon Low, Toni Morrison, Shimon Peres, John Paul Stevens and Pat Summitt.  In addition to a medal, each honoree gets a monogrammed umbrella sword.  Which explains why no Medal of Freedom winner has even gotten successfully mugged.

Tomorrow: The summer sizzles with the sounds of dumb people saying and doing dumb things.  Don’t miss it unless you have something else you prefer doing!!!

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Oh, and here's your Puppy Pic of the Day: Nothing special, just "the most amazing Christmas gift we could ever ask for."

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