In the first year of the new millennium, a 12-month extravaganza of rambunctious rappers, potty-mouthed politicians, a Subway Series and the re-re-re-naming of Prince, the whole 365 days still boil down to those five words.
The chads, those tiny rectangles punched out of a Floridian's properly completed ballot, evolved into a symbol of the year 2000 a signal of hope, change and the future.
Each chad was studied more closely than a Pamela Anderson poster in a cellblock full of lifers. There were dimpled chads, pregnant chads, dented chads, scads of chads, oodles of chads, green eggs and chads.
Would you punch them in a car? Would you, could you in a bar?
If the chad standard applied nationwide in 2000, the New York Mets would argue that World Series was not quite over. Drew Brees would still await his Heisman Trophy. The rest of Rage Against the Machine would claim departed lead singer Zach de la Rocha had just gone out for the paper.
But that was not the case; the chad-mania was blissfully prevented from spreading outside the Sunshine State. The other 49 members of the union had to make do with items ike these:
Humiliation, Thy Name Is...
After marrying a stranger on a Fox television show and getting a quickie annulment in Las Vegas, Darva Conger stripped down for Playboy. Her motivation for doing the Hef thing: "I'm trying to make something positive out of something very bad." And, of course, to make her parents proud.
Name change No. 1: After bopping through the last decade under an assortment of noms-de-weird, a symbol, The Artist, that weird guy with the cheeks cut out of his pants, Prince held a news conference announcing he would now be known as ... Prince!!! This clears the way for Art Garfunkel to rename himself as the Art-ist.
Name change No. 2: Deciding it was easier to switch names than convince America's comedians to mature, Beaver College officially changed its name to the comedy-proof Arcadia University. That sound you hear is the soft weeping of late-night comedy writers.
Trump Plaza At Pennsylvania Avenue
After an exploratory committee determined that a baccarat table couldn't fit in the Lincoln Bedroom and the White House couldn't be moved to Atlantic City, Donald Trump ended his alleged run for the presidency.
The Mike Tyson Diet
Ears are out, kids are in. The once-fearsome, now-frothing ex-heavyweight champion informed current titleholder Lennox Lewis, "I want to eat your children." Rather than eat alone, Tyson proposed a culinary treat for Lewis, too: "I'll rip his heart out and feed it to him."
Welcome To The Big Leagues
New York Times reporter Adam Clymer was described in distinctly non-presidential terms - Richard Nixon excepted - during a campaign stop by Gov. George W. Bush, who apparently wants to put the "expletive" back in "expletive deleted."
Dead Man Running
Some Republicans contemplated challenging Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan's right to run for the U.S. Senate, saying he no longer lived in the state. Technically, they were right - he had died in a plane crash. But Missouri voters opted for Carnahan anyway; the seat will be assumed by his widow.
Puffy Go Home
Sean "Puffy" Combs, an A-list invitee to events of all sorts, was crossed off the guest list permanently at Club New York. Owner Michael Bergos sued Puffy for $1.8 million, saying the notoriety caused by a December shooting incident inside his Times Square club had wrecked his business. Combs is charged with weapons possession in the case.
My Name Is ... Prisoner No. 145762
Keeping it a little too real, Eminem was arrested twice in a week on weapons charges - the second time after a dust-up with members of the Insane Clown Posse (really). Adding insult to arrest, the gutter-mouthed rapper's mom later released her own CD dissing the real Slim Shady.
Heidi, Heidi, Heidi Ho
In a move reminiscent of the infamous "Heidi game," CBS cut away from the lat two minutes of the San Diego Chargers-Kansas City Chiefs game to air something equally innocuous: election results two weeks after the election. This deprived San Diego television viewers of seeing their team's first win of the season after 11 consecutive losses.
Where Did Our Fans Go?
Diana Ross, after launching a Supremes reunion that snubbed original member Mary Wilson, discovered the seats were empty without her, babe. In Columbus, Ohio, there were barely 3,000 people in a 22,000-seat arena; the tour went belly-up after 12 of 23 scheduled dates.
The Baha Men
Who? Who? Who? One year from now, folks will be asking that question about the purveyors of the inescapable Who Let the Dogs Out? part song, part ritual chant, all annoying, all the time. The Men even performed their hit before a World Series game in Shea Stadium, although not before the Florida Supreme Court.
By Larry McShane
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