Deficit-Wracked Maryland Calls It Quits

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Bush Not Heard From For Over A Month

WASHINGTON, DC—Beltway insiders and members of the media expressed concern Monday that President Bush has not been heard from for nearly five weeks. "I hope he's okay," said Secretary of State Colin Powell. "It's just like him to go off on a fishing trip to Alaska or something and not tell anyone. Which is fine. I mean, he's the president and can do what he wants and all that, but we kind of need to wrap up this whole Liberia thing we started." White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan admitted that he was unclear about the president's whereabouts, but figured he must be "off somewhere busy with something."

Hot New Secretary Of Transportation To 'Shake Up' U.S. Highways

WASHINGTON, DC—In a press conference announcing the replacement of Norman Mineta, vivacious new Secretary of Transportation Kyla Damon unveiled plans Tuesday to "shake up" U.S. highways. "You think you've seen negotiation and implementation of international transportation agreements and the issuance of regulations to prevent alcohol and illegal-drug misuse in U.S. transportation systems?" Damon said. "Well, think again!" Damon added that her first order of business would be to "say so long to that dusty old fossil known as the Federal Highway Administration."

Area Man Overly Proud Of Never Wearing Underwear

LITTLE ROCK, AR—Local record-store clerk Greg Oertel, 23, seems inordinately proud that he never wears underwear, Oertel's coworkers told reporters Tuesday. "I've heard Greg mention about 10 times that he never wears underwear," coworker Jake Hannah said. "He acts like he doesn't care what we think about it, but I'm beginning to suspect he does." According to his friends, Oertel insists that he gets hot when he wears underwear, so he "just doesn't bother," and that "it's no big deal." 

Widower Misses Sex With Dead Wife Terribly

SCOTTSBLUFF, NE—Nearly one year after a car accident claimed the life of wife Sarah, Lloyd Monreal still misses having sex with her "more than I can say," the 44-year-old reported Tuesday. "Even now, every room in the house reminds me of the times we had sex in it," Monreal said, fighting back tears. "I don't care if 40 years go by. I'll never forget her breasts, her ass, those thighs." In honor of the anniversary, Monreal will eat a quiet dinner at home, after which he will take out a box of old photographs and perform a one-hour masturbation vigil by candlelight.

Man Trapped Under Boulder Braces For Possible Good Morning America Interview

YOSEMITE VILLAGE, CA—Rock climber Scott Prichard, 31, who has spent the last 48 hours with his legs pinned under a boulder on Glacier Point, is reportedly bracing himself for a possible interview on Good Morning America. "God, Charles Gibson, that chubby weatherman with the wisecracks," a sweat- and urine-soaked Prichard said. "I pray Diane Sawyer doesn't ask me if I wanted to climb the Point 'because it was there.' I just would not be able to stomach that kind of inane chit-chat." Prichard then passed out from the intense pain. 

Troops To Stay In Iraq

U.S. military officials recently announced that thousands of soldiers will remain in Iraq for longer than previously stated. What do you think?
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Deficit-Wracked Maryland Calls It Quits

ANNAPOLIS, MD—Citing mounting debt and a decline in tourism dollars, the state of Maryland will shut down for good on August 31, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. told reporters Monday.

A Baltimore-area interstate.

"I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has ever lived in or visited the great state of Maryland," Ehrlich said at a press conference held on the steps of a boarded-up Capitol Building. "You are the people who have made this such a wonderful place. Maryland will live on in the fond memories of each of you, even as we liquidate the state's assets."

Ratified as the seventh state in 1788, Maryland has been a favorite haunt for a devoted group of fans. In addition to being the home of the Annapolis U.S. Naval Academy, Maryland is the birthplace of such notable Americans as surveyor Benjamin Banneker, singer Billie Holiday, baseball legend Babe Ruth, and former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

In spite of its rich history, Maryland has struggled with mounting debt since the '90s, as tourism and tax revenues failed to keep pace with rising expenses. The state has for years fought what many insiders considered a losing battle.

"We had a good run, but we just can't do it anymore," Ehrlich said. "The bad economy, increased spending on homeland security, and an increasing Medicaid bill were the final nails in Maryland's coffin. We are simply losing too much money to keep the borders open."

Ehrlich promised that Maryland would not shut down operations until the last day of August, giving longtime fans of the Old Line State an opportunity to visit.

"We wanted to give people a chance to say goodbye," Ehrlich said. "Since the rumors of a state shutdown began, I have received thousands of letters and small donations from people all over the country. This means so much—more than you can ever know—but despite all the love and devotion, I'm afraid it's just not going to happen."

Ehrlich told the crowd that he did everything he could to keep Maryland open, but in the end no effort proved successful.

"I made across-the-board budget cuts, restructured all of our social services, effected hiring freezes, and emptied out the state's rainy-day fund," Ehrlich said. "The last decade has just been exhausting. As much as I love Maryland, I can't say that I'm going to miss the 18-hour days trying to keep this state afloat."

Ehrlich said he received offers to buy out Maryland, but the bids were rejected.

"We had a deal with New Mexico that could have saved us, but it fell through," Ehrlich said. "The things [New Mexico Gov.] Bill Richardson wanted to change when he took over went against everything Maryland is all about. Rather than severely compromise our state, we decided instead to pass."

On Sept. 1, the government of Maryland will disband and all state employees will be laid off, a situation Ehrlich calls "extremely regrettable."

"Many of these workers have been in Maryland all their lives," Ehrlich said. "These folks are like family to me. In fact, some actually are family. The people are why we held on to statehood as long as we did."

Although current residents of Maryland will be allowed to stay in the state until they can arrange to relocate, they must do so without government services. Experts predict the state will become a vast vacant lot within five years.

In order to offset some of the debt accrued over the last few decades, Maryland is selling its assets, announcing that "everything must go" before the state closes. The most sought-after items to be auctioned off include the original first draft of "The Star-Spangled Banner," written by Maryland native Francis Scott Key.

The rights to Maryland's state flag, bird, and motto are also being sold to the highest bidder.

"Secret [brand antiperspirant] has put in a substantial bid for our motto, Fatti maschii, parole femine, which means 'Manly Deeds, Womanly Words,'" Ehrlich said. "I also think that Nevada might buy the rights to our state sport, jousting. When we sell the rights to our state song, 'Maryland, My Maryland,' that's when it's going to hit me that it's finally over."

For many longtime fans of Maryland, the closing strikes a deep emotional chord.

"It's just a shame," said Gene Tupper, a resident of Maryland since 1955. "I don't think anyone will really understand what it was like to visit the historic Antietam National Battlefield or walk along beautiful Chesapeake Bay back in the prime years. I guess all great things have to end sometime."

Many fans of the state said they hope someone purchases and revitalizes Maryland before it falls into disrepair.

"I don't want what happened to Oregon to happen here," said Jane Renski, a Maryland resident. "We drove by the place a few years ago and it was totally abandoned— really eerie. The whole state was infested with raccoons."

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