Where no shill has gone before

Last week, President Bush called for a dramatic revitalization of America's space program, laying out a plan under which mankind would return to the moon by 2020 and reach Mars sometime thereafter. Critics were quick to dismiss the proposal as a purely political election-year move, but Orlando Weekly has determined its viability through a foolproof process: visiting a couple of "Star Trek" fan sites and cross-referencing their data with White House forecasts. Know what? It's almost scary.

U.S./Earth/U.F.P. (United Federation of Planets)

2002 -- U.S. launches Nomad probe, which is lost in space and presumed destroyed. Bush administration is able to cover up entire affair by focusing public attention on terrorism and tax reform. Centuries later, Nomad will turn up in Federation space, posing dangerous menace until crew of U.S.S. Enterprise manages to kill it by driving it crazy with illogic.

2004 (Feb. 2) -- Bush releases 2005 budget, including $200 billion for NASA funding. Amid outcry from legislators, few notice that 15 percent of total amount is earmarked for research into military feasibility of Corbomite Maneuver.

2008 -- First unmanned test flight of Bush-mandated Crew Exploration Vehicle. Outgoing president hails progress of program as he packs bags for Leavenworth.

2009 -- Capt. Shaun Geoffrey Christopher leads first successful Earth-Saturn mission. President Hillary Clinton follows in predecessor's footsteps by keeping mission on the Q.T., distracting lazy press corps by championing Democratic Party's 115th annual attempt to provide universal health care.

2010 -- As called for in 2004 plan, construction begins on space station. Pundits note curious lack of enthusiasm among NASA officials, but how excited can you get about a space station when you know you have a man on fucking Saturn??!!!!

2014 -- Manned flights of Crew Exploration Vehicle begin. Yawn, belch, scratch.

2018 -- Humans walk on moon for first time since 1972. Straying momentarily from landing party, astronaut Oliver L. North III wanders behind rock and is "assimilated" by time-traveling Borg. Upon return to Earth, North begins meteoric rise to CEOship of Halliburton Co.

2029 -- First manned mission to Mars; first acknowledged visit to another planet in our solar system. In harbinger of things to come, loose-lipped team leader Katherine Schwarzenegger refers to achievement as "one giant leap for Terrans."

2030 -- Birth of Zefram Cochrane, inventor of Warp Drive. Three MIT grads are present for birth, having been summoned to baby Cochrane's side by bright star shining in heavens. Visitors bear gifts of gold, frankincense and dilithium crystals.

2032 -- Space travelers Rose Kumagawa and Andrei Novakovich are stranded on Mars, fulfilling doomy prophecy laid down decades before by six seriously upset fans at a "Trek" convention in Fishkill, N.Y.

2036 -- Back on Earth, New United Nations is formed. President Jenna Bush withholds U.S. participation until alliance designates an official cocktail.

2039 -- Founding of lunar colonies, including New Berlin, New London and New Kennebunkport. First use of lunar orbiter plane; first off-Earth consumption of official NUN cocktail, Sex on the Moon.

2053 -- World War III begins. Before its end, Earth's death toll will reach 600,000, most major cities will fall and technology will be set back 1,000 years. "Whoopsie!" says President Christopher Lachey-Simpson.

2063 -- In Montana test flight, Zefram Cochrane becomes first human to travel faster than speed of light. Date also marks Earth's first contact with extraterrestrials (Vulcans), beginning long, fruitful partnership that will lead to "highly logical" extermination of common foe (Mormons).

2065 -- Mars colonized.

2066 -- Mars gets first Crispers.

2117 -- At age 87, Zefram Cochrane disappears. Flagging state of Social Security means that no one notices.

2155 -- Earth-Romulan War. Hostilities are prolonged by dearth of eligible males for Earth's draft program. "Wish we still had those Mormons," comments commanding Gen. Jesse Ventura III.

2158 -- Accident at Kinko's shop on Saturn leads to invention of transporter. Customer in question receives no credit for discovery, is charged whopping fee for shipping morbidly obese salesgirl to Pluto.

2161 -- United Federation of Planets formed; starfleet commissioned. First starship crews receive communicators well ahead of schedule, thanks to strong working relationship between Vulcan ruler T'Pau and Earth corporation T-Mobile.

2218 -- Humans meet Klingons. Swiftly drawn-up addendum to Federation charter proclaims Mormons "not so bad after all."

2267 --U.S.S. Enterprise begins five-year mission to seek out new life and new civilizations. Soon after, Capt. James T. Kirk bags first alien babe: Andorian cocktail waitress Janice IV. Speaking from fourth moon of Jupiter, mechanically preserved brain of William Jefferson Clinton proclaims that Bush 2004 plan can finally be considered an unqualified success.

(Special thanks to scifi.about.com and members.cox.net/stenterprise. In the words of Bill Shatner, "Get a life!")


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