A Strange Start To New Century

Miss USA Tara Conner gets emotional as she speaks at a press conference at Trump Tower on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2006 in New York. Donald Trump, who owns the Miss USA Pageant with NBC and the Miss Universe Organization decided not to strip Conner's Miss USA title over allegations of underage drinking and other conduct forbidden to Miss USA winners. GETTY IMAGES/Brad Barket

The new millennium was ushered in with a bang, and citizens hoarded bottled water, batteries and beef jerky as doomsayers predicted all manner of natural disasters and weird occurrences.

The media reported nothing drastic happened. But Sunday Morning Correspondent Bill Geist begs to differ.
One who survived the monumentally weird year famously was Richard Hatch, winner of the million dollar prize on the smash hit TV series Survivor. Hatch missed a good chunk of the nation's oddities over the year while on a semi-deserted island but he did catch the recent election.

"It's odd, George W. Bush and I have a lot in common," says Hatch. "We each received the fewest number of votes and won. Go figure."

We had just about the weirdest election in history, and when some of the votes were tabulated, the guy who came in second won.

Donald Trump said he might run. There were rumors Warren Beatty would run and Alan Keyes garnered some support. Gary Bauer fell out of the running while polls told candidates what to say, but sometimes it didn't come out right. Polls told the media what to say, too. And sometimes that didn't come out right either.

Voting machines went on trial as did human counters who tried to divine the intent of voters.

When the tribe had spoken, Al Gore was gracious. Perhaps Survivor participant Susan Hawk summed up his true sentiments toward the Bush camp when she said: "If I were ever to pass you along in life again, and you were lying there dying of thirst, I would not give you a drink of water. I would let the vultures take you and do whatever they want with you with no ill regrets."

In this bizarre election Gore lost his home state, and Hillary Clinton picked one. Jon Corzine bought one for $60 million of his own money, and Senate candidate Mel Carnahan decisively won his state, while dead.

Political activism was back. Some protesters supported the right of rats that were being treated by Survivor contestants as entrees.

No weird occurrences at the millennium, you say? How about herds of plastic livestock that were descending on our nation's cities?

No earth-shattering disasters? Kathie Lee Gifford stepped down from the popular Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee show, and ratings soared.

Barbara Streisand stopped singing. Mr. Rogers retired. 90210 went off the air.

Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche split. So did Jane Fonda and Ted Turner. Elian came out of the closet and went back where he came from. Oldsmobiles ran out of gas. The Taco Bell dog was put to sleep, and the curtain went down on an 18-year run of Cats.

People didn't watch the Olympics despite the addition of such crowd pleasers as synchronized diving. They say ballroom dancing may be the next new Olympic event - seriously.

It was a weird year in sports. The perplexing Christian Wrestling Federatin was born and a horse named Zippy Chippy set an all-time record with his 86th straight loss.

Baseball pitcher John Rocker was suspended and severely chastised for offending women and minorities - the same thing rapper Eminem won awards for.

Incidentally, scientists this year announced they had deciphered the human genome - and John Rocker was downgraded to a mineral.

Mike Tyson said, "I want to eat your children," while basketball coach Bobby Knight just wanted to choke a few.

The Lakers won the NBA championship, and the city celebrated with the traditional looting and burning of police cars.

The Yankees won, of course, and were honored by fans tossing tons of trash on them from tall buildings. The Mets have asked the Florida Supreme Court for a recount.

Tiger Woods won so much he seemed at risk from silver polish poisoning.

And Alex Rodriguez received a $252 million contract for hitting and catching balls half days, half the year. The average American would have to work full time for 6,300 years to make that.

Regis Philbin kept giving away millions, kept a few for himself and came out with his own clothing line. But a hamster can do that.

In fact, a line of very cool clothing made from hamster fur was introduced.

The new Harry Potter book sold 500,000 copies in one day. And not one but two professional wrestlers topped the New York Times bestseller list: Mankind and The Rock.

It was a big year for The Rock, who addressed the GOP convention, raising speculation that he might be named secretary of defense.

Romance was in the air this year. Al Gore got a lot of political mileage out of kissing his wife but he was kissing the wrong woman. He should have been kissing up to Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Marriages seemed to be quite different in the new millennium. Darva Conger and Rick Rockwell married on the nationwide TV show Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire. Conger had the marriage annulled, saying she was sick of the media exposure. She then exposed herself in Playboy.

It was a year for nudity. Jennifer Lopez attended the Grammies almost naked and the fashion seemed to be catching on. The Thong Song - an enchanting number - topped the charts.

In film, this was not a banner year. Fifty-two missing Oscar statues were found in a dumpster. It was later determined that the Oscars had been presented to the dumpster as a worthier recipient than the nominees.

It was a weird year on the musical front as well. You couldn't get away from that Survivor theme or another hit that kept asking the musical question Who Let The Dogs Out?

Mike Wallace - yes, that Mike Wallace - sang a duet.

Kathie Lee Gifford reportedly released a CD - somewhere.

But our vocalist of the year (with the votes partially counted and with chads ahanging) is Billy Bass, te singing fish mounted on walls all over the country.

Like I've been saying all along, it was a weird year.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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