It's your duty as an AmericanSteve Hammer

A fresh start. That's what a new year represents to all of us, and it's something I plan on taking full advantage of this year. People like us are expressly NOT INVITED to participate in the governmental process, at least for the next four years. So we have a great opportunity for a vacation, at least until the presidential impeachment trial starts in 2007.

The holidays are over; people have stopped saying "Happy New Year" to each other; now it's time to sit down and get serious about the next 360-plus days.

For many, if not most of the people I know, 2004 was a very bad year: personally, professionally, spiritually and psychologically.

That's why I'm even more determined to make something out of 2005, something which I can build upon in the years to come.

For all of its traumas and insults to the brain, 2004 went out on a high note for me. I cashed in vacation time from Dec. 21 to Jan. 3 and lived the life of an international playboy during that time. I even wore an ascot.

But two weeks is just too damn long to take a vacation. By the end of it, I was running out of things to do. You can only play so many video games, guzzle so much booze and charm so many women in one given timeframe before it becomes too much.

My character in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas now has a firm command of the city's gang territories and recently obtained his pilot's license. I'm maxed out on my bike level, my AK-47 skill and my sex appeal, just like in real life.

And as much as I like the product created at the Crown Royal distillery in Toronto, you can't drink for two weeks straight, or at least I can't.

And the worst part about a lengthy vacation is the coming back to work part. Two weeks gives you enough freedom to create an illusion that your new lifestyle might be permanent.

But the calendar quickly catches up with one while on vacation. I don't think I want to take a two-week vacation ever again.

One of the hardest-working people I know says that the only vacation he needs is 10 hours on a tropical beach somewhere. That gives him enough time to have a few beverages, talk to some attractive women and relax for a few hours.

Then he hops on a flight back home and heads straight back to work.

And there's a lot of work that needs to be done around here, both in Indianapolis and in Washington. And guess what?

People like us are expressly NOT INVITED to participate in the governmental process, at least for the next four years. So we have a great opportunity for a vacation, at least until the presidential impeachment trial starts in 2007.

So it's time for all of us to do what I did for the last two weeks: enjoy life to the fullest. Go ahead and have another helping of prime rib. Your liver can withstand a chocolate martini. And don't worry about the cholesterol in that cocktail shrimp. It doesn't matter.

The president and his henchmen in Washington, as well as their Mini-Me counterparts in the Indiana Statehouse, have said over and over again that their victories mean it's time to do exactly as they say.

And that means no dissent, especially from people like us. So go ahead and open that Pabst. Make a move on that attractive person who's been flirting with you. With politics out of our lives, now we can concentrate on having fun.

Oh, sure, every now and then there will be something that comes up we can't ignore, like the increased flow of bodybags back to the U.S. from overseas. But don't worry. The president has a plan to win the war with honor and dignity, so we needn't worry our pretty little heads about it.

If you're a liberal, take solace in the fact that we have a president who is the biggest spender ever, across the board, even excluding defense and homeland security. If you're a fan of the welfare state, high budget deficits and war profiteering, this is the golden age.

Besides, there's a new season of American Idol starting on Fox later this month. The Colts look to have a pretty good chance in the playoffs. And that Paris Hilton! She's so naughty! I bet her parents are embarrassed by her!

The issues of poverty, homelessness, the unequal distribution of justice and everything else will just have to wait for the next four years. You heard the president.

"I understand everybody in this country doesn't agree with the decisions I've made," he said during the first presidential debate. "And I made some tough decisions. But people know where I stand. People out there listening know what I believe. And that's how best it is to keep the peace."

Did you get that? As long as you know where the president stands, and agree with him, we will have domestic tranquility. If you do otherwise, be prepared to face the consequences.

It's not like he hasn't warned us repeatedly to behave and let Halliburton take for itself the spoils of war. We have a solemn obligation to just be quiet and let the president do what he wants.

He won the election by 118,000 votes, the margin of his victory in Ohio. So we can thank our neighbors to the east for that. Just keep your head down and your mouth shut and you'll be fine.

It's time for a fresh start. Have a lot of fun in 2005. It's time to cash in your right as an American to be misinformed and apathetic about the world around us.

To do anything else at this time of war would be unpatriotic.


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