Tom looks into his crystal ball--and discovers it's actually acrylic

I wrote down some predictions as to what might happen in 2006 at the start of the year. I am now going to reveal what those predictions were, and how well I fared. Of course, I must ask you to believe that I really did make those predictions and that I sealed them away for a year. Otherwise, this column would seem cheesy and insincere. (Keep those remarks to yourself.)

· PREDICTION: The Democrats will seize upon the opportunity to replace retiring Rep. Jim Kolbe by running a dynamic candidate, one willing to take the Dems' case to any forum and debate any candidate, and one who can best voice the concerns of and represent middle-class America.

OUTCOME: WRONG. We elected Gabrielle Giffords instead.

· PREDICTION: Gasoline prices will remain very high through the first two-thirds of the year, will nosedive right before the election, then will head back up.

OUTCOME: How hard is that to predict? That's like the one free one that I got. Plus, I also knew that my friend Emil Franzi would ridicule anybody who thought there was some sort of market manipulation going on. I'm sorry; I sincerely believe that if there is money to be stolen, somebody's going to be smart enough to figure out how to steal it.

· COROLLARY TO PREVIOUS PREDICTION: Economists will suggest several possible explanations for the curiously timed dip and subsequent rebound in prices.

OUTCOME: CORRECT. Economists couldn't accurately predict an outbreak of flatulence after the consumption of a chili-cheese dog. Why they give a Nobel Prize in that stuff is beyond me.

· PREDICTION: A big Hollywood action star will have an ugly, drunken run-in with the police and will blame the Jews for his troubles with the law. I'm not sure who it will be, maybe Bruce Willis or Tom Cruise. It won't be Mel Gibson, who is a devout Catholic and certainly wouldn't bring religious hatred into any situation.

OUTCOME: WRONG. Wow, did I blow that one! It's so weird. We all know that it's the Protestants who are behind the worldwide conspiracy concerning drunk-driving citations.

· PREDICTION: The Arizona Board of Regents, after watching the original version (with Burt Reynolds) of The Longest Yard, will raise tuition prices again. They will focus on the part where Reynolds' Paul Crewe character throws the ball directly into the groin of prison guard (and linebacker) Bogdanski (Hall of Famer Ray Nitschke) and then, in the huddle before the very next play, says, "Well, it worked once; let's do it again."

OUTCOME: CORRECT. There can't be any other explanation. There was an initial student uproar, but when a student contingent addressed the board, the kids were promised that they would still be able to get Facebook, MySpace and YouTube on university computers, so they dropped their protest.

· PREDICTION: There will be a surprising hit movie, one featuring a very strange man pretending to be an alien who makes fun of Americans and their foibles.

OUTCOME: CORRECT. It was called An Inconvenient Truth. And whaddya mean, Al Gore wasn't acting?

· PREDICTION: Fidel Castro will die.

OUTCOME: WRONG. Actually, that wasn't my prediction; it was the CIA's. They've been making it every year since 1961, and they asked if they could add it to my list. I felt kinda sorry for them, what with that whole weapons of mass destruction debacle and all.

· PREDICTION: Paris Hilton will attempt to rehabilitate her image by surrounding herself with people who are even skankier than she is.

OUTCOME: AMAZINGLY CORRECT. This is a biggie, because nobody out there thought it was possible to be skankier than Paris Hilton. But bring out panty-less, white-trash, unfit mother Britney Spears, and throw in drunk-ass, already-in-rehab-but-still-not-old-enough-to-drink Lindsay Lohan and, all of a sudden, Hilton is just like any other person who has sex on the Internet.

And just think: We could have added Nicole Richie if she could tell the difference between an onramp and an offramp. I e-mailed her the other day with a possible solution to her drug problem. I told her that Vicodin has lots and lots of calories.

· PREDICTION: The UA football team will win more games than they did in 2005 (3 wins). I'm not sure how many games they'll win or which teams they'll beat, but I am certain of one thing: If they need to beat Arizona State in the season finale in order to go to a bowl game for the first time this century, that's a sure thing.

OUTCOME: Wait 'til next decade.

· PREDICTION: Things won't get any worse in the Middle East.

OUTCOME: Let's see: Israel pretty much lost a mini-war with a bunch of street thugs who hid behind women and children. An Iranian with a Napoleonic complex says that the Holocaust didn't happen and wants an atom bomb to make it happen for reals. Syria can't control its own affairs but wants desperately to take over Lebanon. And the Palestinians are degenerating into civil war. (Notice that I didn't even mention Iraq.) Still, all things considered, I pretty much got that one CORRECT.

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