Losers: the down and out

From Sarah Palin’s presidential bid to dire visions of the apocalypse–everything that didn’t turn out in 2011

The down and out

David J. Phillip/AP

Backbenchers

After losing ground ever so slowly in the previous three elections, the federal Liberals were slaughtered this time around, relegated to just 34 seats. The once-unbeatable party of Wilfrid Laurier, Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien is on the brink of political irrelevance, and some long-time Liberals are not convinced that their fortunes can recover. As one senior official said: “It’s do something or die.”

Nickelback-lash

Despite album sales topping 50 million, Nickelback could be the most despised band in the history of musical instruments. Critics have long panned the Canadian rockers as dull, predictable and formulaic, but the venom reached a new level this year when the group was chosen to perform the halftime show at the annual Thanksgiving football game between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. The announcement triggered such rage that 52,000 people signed a petition, demanding a replacement.

Feeling the heat

Speaking of hatred, did anyone endure more boos this year than LeBron James? After bolting from his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat (where he joined fellow all-stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh), “King James” failed to live up to his self-manufactured hype. In what should have been his crowning moment—a championship title over the underdog Dallas Mavericks—James looked lost and confused, averaging a mere 17 points per game on the way to a lopsided defeat.

Life imitates art

James Fogle was a recovering addict serving another prison term when he penned Drugstore Cowboy, the autobiographical novel about a family of junkies who rob pharmacies to feed their habits. The behind-bars book became an acclaimed Hollywood movie, starring Matt Dillon. But for the real cowboy, the sequel was sadly predictable. At 74 years old—sitting in a wheelchair and breathing through an oxygen mask—Fogle was sent back to jail this year, for holding up a Seattle pharmacy.

The end is not nigh

Harold Camping, a self-styled Biblical scholar, knew exactly when the world would end: May 21, 2011. When that prediction proved wrong, he offered an alternative date: Oct. 21. When that, too, passed without an apocalypse, Camping promptly retired. No word yet on whether he will return the tens of millions of dollars his loyal doomsday followers donated over the years.

Holey $#!%

Now, for a genuine sign of the apocalypse: for the first time ever, scientists discovered a gigantic hole in the ozone layer over the Arctic. The gaping hole spanned two million square kilometres and allowed scary levels of dangerous UV rays to hit parts of Canada, Europe and Russia.

Bailin’ Palin

In the end, Sarah Palin decided not to seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency. The announcement came “after much prayer and serious consideration”—and the release of a tell-all book about her life before the media spotlight. Among the revelations: Palin snorted cocaine, had a one-night stand with basketball star Glen Rice, and isn’t a very good cook.

Snail mail

There was a bitter labour dispute at Canada Post this year, highlighted by rotating strikes and an eventual lockout. Did you notice? Didn’t think so. In this modern age of text messages, online bill payments and private courier companies, the petty squabbles at the post office reinforced an undeniable truth: mailmen are obsolete.




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