Predicting ‘ 05 I’m trying to be a good optimist, like President Bush says. So the annual predictions, of which this is a list, are rosier than usual. The hippies would’ve called it selling out, but damn a bunch of hippies. The philosophers have a word for it — the word is Panglossian — that doesn’t sound so dishonorable. It means in 2005 I’ll be going along to get along in this brave new world. I’ll be hating gays, science, heathens, choice, Clintons, libs, environuts, balkers, skeptics, soccer, and the poor every bit as rabidly as the SBC or the EIB. Self-righteousness, moral superiority, smugness, smirking — they’ll ooze all over this space in the coming year. I’m most looking forward to forcing my religious views on others. And the hunting trips with Justice Scalia and the vice president. More of God, guns, and guts in ’05. Ol’ moi, turning over a new leaf. Yessir, absolutely, I love Big Brother. Anyway, here’s what the entrails say. The United States will declare victory in Iraq and get out, saving many American lives and billions of dollars. Heeding a request from President Bush that he use more dignified language, Vice President Cheney will change his signature obscenity from “go f—- yourself” to “go f—- thyself.” The TV networks will concede in an announcement that reality programming was a stupid idea and that it will be abandoned in favor of good old-fashioned dramas and comedies. And more sports. More televangelism. A squirrel chewing through the insulation on some wires and causing an outage at the presidential library will be discovered to have been put up to it by the VRWC. Heifer International, building a headquarters nearby, will apply for grazing rights on the presidential library grounds, and they’ll be granted in exchange for concession rights to the goat and ox chips for fertilizer plastic-bagged by the pound and sold dear at the library’s gift shop. Fox will drop the “fair and balanced” and go with the simpler “kissass.” Dan Rather will last be seen horizontal, holding onto a lamppost in a hurricane, crying, “Rage, winds! Crack your cheeks! Ho!” The Grand Ole Opry will apologize for nearly a hundred years of nasal caterwauling and too much steel guitar. Baseball players will hold out for shorter contracts for less money, saying that their productivity should improve as a result. At the suggestion of a Hot Springs lawmaker, the state legislature will require drama teachers who permit profanity in school plays to be brought to Little Rock, where designated legislators will bend them over tables and spank their butts. The governor will apologize for all the weird clemency decisions, which he will blame on stress from chronic Jethrine poundings. President Bush will propose further genetic research limitations on grounds that every stem cell has a tiny soul that goes to a special hereafter petrie dish when it dies. A Japanese auto maker will refuse to add Arkansas to the list of states being considered for a new car plant until the legislature passes a resolution praising Tojo, which the legislature will. The governor will get so thin that his band will use his ribcage for a vibraphone, but toward the end of the year he’ll have a Velveeta relapse. The Razorbacks will adopt as their new motto the old Grantland Rice saying that if you can’t win, emphasize sportsmanship. Much of Northwest Arkansas, southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois, eastern Kentucky and eastern Tennessee will sink into oblivion after the long-overdue New Madrid sequel earthquake, and Homeland Security, suspecting terrorism, will change the alert color from yellow to orange. President Bush and Congress will accidentally make the Social Security system stronger by some idle tinkering, and older people will no longer have to be concerned about the safety and security of the national retirement fund. The South Arkansas deer population will draft a manifesto saying they’ve had enough, and will take over Bearden. They will not, however, throw up breastworks. The Jim Bob Duggars will add four children to their brood by natural childbirth, one per quarter, using the secret speeded-up fertilization and gestation method they learned from Ozarks lore. Bro. Pat Robertson will claim that he engaged in a wrestling match with God, similar to the one between God and Jacob in Genesis, only his was a cage match, and to disbelievers he will name Vince McMahon as having been a witness. State Game & Fish will identify the water moccasin as a direct descendant of the Eden serpent and, with enthusiastic gubernatorial support, will launch an extermination program called Operation Payback. A State Ed ruling: If the rapture comes, it will be counted as snow days.