… in January, when Jon Huntsman surges into contention with unexpectedly strong showings in New Hampshire. Pundits attribute it to a last-minute endorsement from Justin Bieber.
… in March, when Ron Paul reveals himself to be a gifted freestyle rapper during an appearance on Saturday Night Live.
… in July, when in a Fox News interview, former president Bill Clinton expresses tepid support for Mitt Romney, sending both Democrats and Republicans into a week of frenzied spinning.
… in October, when vice presidential candidate Condoleezza Rice trounces Joe Biden in their debate, prompting dozens of newspapers around the country to all run the same headline: SAY IT AIN'T SO, JOE.
… sign an endorsement deal with a chain of fast-food restaurants in Japan.
… be caught canoodling with Ashton Kutcher.
… write another novel.
… abandon her aspirations toward universal notoriety in favor of a quiet life in suburban Ohio.
… date a professional athlete.
... Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
... garish and poorly executed plastic surgery.
... an impotent Congress paralyzed by middle-school-style bickering.
... the Palins.
... Meryl Streep wins Best Actress for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
... The Artist wins Best Picture.
... George Clooney wins Best Actor for his portrayal of Matt King in The Descendants.
... the show runs an hour long, the winners squeeze political messages into their acceptance speeches, and the critics say that while he was much better than Anne Hathaway and James Franco, Billy Crystal brought less enthusiasm to his hosting gig in 2012 than he did back in the '90s.
... Jonathan Franzen and Oprah co-host a weekly show in praise of book critics on her cable network.
... J. K. Rowling reveals she plans world domination à la Voldemort. Adults everywhere laugh at her attempt to get attention with the end of Pottermania, but their kids know better: magic is real.
... Philip Roth runs for Senate in Connecticut against Joseph Lieberman, who goes back on his pledge not to seek reelection--a race that terrifies and confuses Jewish mothers around the state. Roth disavows Portnoy's Complaint as a youthful indiscretion.
... Laura Hillenbrand writes a book that isn't mega-bestselling, utterly gripping, and emotionally charged. The rest of the world's authors sigh with relief.
... parachute pants.
... protester chic, including all-weather parkas, hand-drawn signs, and T-shirts with slogans about class struggle.
... very large shoulder pads.
... Twitter will expand to 170 characters, striking a blow to brevity everywhere.
... Facebook will launch a Future Timeline where people can map out their lives before they've lived them, complete with careers, marriages, divorces, photos, etc.
... Google announces the end of its "do no evil" era and embraces huge profits, tracking of users, selling of personal data, and domination of the world's information.
... Apple revolutionizes TV.
... Netflix is awarded customer-service company of the year with its constantly expanding digital library, ever-decreasing prices, and savvy management decisions.
1. Charlie Sheen 2. Callista Gingrich 3. Roger Ailes 4. Miley Cyrus 5. Lloyd Blankfein
... "I really lost my way last year, but all of that changed when I discovered the teachings of Sun Myung Moon."
... "My dream is to be the mayor of New York."
... "I'm still not quite sure how I ended up in prison, but to be honest, it's a lot better than where I came from."
... "If I could have dinner with anyone it'd be Charlie Sheen."
... "Me? I'm voting for Ron Paul."