IRVING, TX — One day after breaking its own record for the biggest U.S. quarterly profit ever, ExxonMobil Corporation (motto: Cheap Gas or Clean Restrooms — Make Up Your Mind!) announced it is buying the country of Iceland and giving it to President George W. Bush in appreciation for all he’s done for the company during the last eight years. “We got Iceland for less than you might expect,” said ExxonMobil spokesperson Phil Rupp. “With their recent financial problems, the Icelandic government was willing to let it go for $10 billion in cash, a year’s supply of gas and front-row seats to a Jonas Brothers concert. Oh, and we had to take Bjork off their hands.”

President Bush has hinted recently that he’s planning to sell his ranch in Crawford, Texas, after leaving the White House and is looking for another weekend getaway spot. He was initially disappointed when he heard about Iceland. “Isn’t that the state Sarah Palin’s from?” he asked Rupp. Mr. Bush warmed up to Iceland after hearing that the island’s recent financial crisis has crippled the country’s logging industry, giving him over 100,000 acres of brush to clear. The departing government also promised Mr. Bush it would change all of the country’s polysyllabic unpronounceable Norse city names to Lars.

Vice President Dick Cheney was visibly upset when he heard about the gift, since not only was he the real driving force behind ExxonMobil’s tax breaks, he’s the only member of the Bush administration who’s ever used an Exxon restroom. Cheney spends a few days every month in one near Washington since, as he puts it, “Even Osama bin Laden wouldn’t follow me in there.” Just as the vice president was picking up the phone to invite ExxonMobil’s CEO on a hunting trip, Phil Rupp was ushered into his office to present him with the keys to the Exxon Cheney, a 4,000-foot-long oil tanker the company is converting into the world’s largest bass boat.

WASHINGTON, DC — At a hastily-convened press conference near his old stomping grounds, the Federal Reserve Bank, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan announced he is ending his longtime allegiance to the philosophy and books of Ayn Rand and switching his commitment to horror novelist and born-again Catholic Anne Rice. “I have finally come to the realization that financial institutions are lead by a bunch of bloodsuckers,” said a pale black-clad Greenspan, “And nobody knows bloodsuckers better than Anne Rice.”

Greenspan was once a member of Ayn Rand’s inner circle and his autographed copy of “Atlas Shrugged” is inscribed: “To Alan, my little laissez fairy.” But the recent financial crisis has forced Greenspan to question Rand’s laissez-faire capitalism and look for a reason why his free market model stopped working. “I was in a bookstore moving copies of my memoir, “The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World,” from fiction to non-fiction when I picked up a copy of “Interview With The Vampire.” By Chapter 2 I knew that Lestat was a brilliant metaphor for Lehman Brothers, and the blood he gorged on symbolized subprime mortgages drenched in red ink. That’s when I found my new Ayn.” Greenspan left the bookstore with copies of all of Rice’s books, making him the only person outside of Rice’s family to actually buy “Blackwood Farm.”

When told of Greenspan’s newfound love of her works, a horrified Anne Rice was seen running to the nearest church screaming “Bless me Father for I have sinned!” Andrea Mitchell, Greenspan’s wife and longtime NBC News political correspondent, blames the conversion on Greenspan’s recent testimony before Congress. “I know the feeling,” said Mitchell. “After a couple of hours with Barney Frank, I’m ready to trade my Wall Street Journal for “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.””

Followers of Rand are hoping Greenspan comes to his senses and returns to the fold soon. Ayn Rand Institute spokesperson Dayn Rogers put it this way: “Our annual Anti-Christmas Party won’t be the same without Alan dancing around with that fake faucet stuck to his forehead, yelling “Look, I’m a Fountainhead!”

Shoebox, your admninistrative assistance

For anyone who loathe doing the paperwork, Shoeboxed is the perfect companion.

DETROIT, MI — With the American automotive industry in its biggest slump since drivers looked under the hood of a Chevy Vega and found chewing gum, auto parts suppliers are preparing for the worst as the car crash trickles down to them. No suppliers are more terrified than the makers of the ubiquitous American car cup holders.

Jody Plummer, president of Big Gulp Grabbers, is frustrated with the auto industry. “We tried convincing the Japanese carmakers to add more cup holders, but they claim to have studies showing that hybrid drivers are afraid of spilling coffee and shorting out their engines.” Plummer is hoping to expand into the golf cart market. “If you leave out one driver and a 7-iron, our 128-ounce cup holder is perfect for a golf bag.”

Other cup holder makers are moving out of the auto industry completely. “We’re talking to blue jeans manufacturers about replacing that silly little change pocket with a cup holder,” says Del Coe, president of Texas Hold-ems. “Cover it with denim and rivets and it blends right in. By next spring, everybody will be wearing Levis 5-0-Water-Bottles.”

Frustrated space tourist Harry “Call Me Mister” Spawque was hoping to sell his company, “I Wanna Hold Your Cup,” to pay for a trip to the International Space Station. With his company stock now worth less than Walter Chekov action figures, Spawque plans to travel there in spirit by equipping Russian space capsules with cup holders. “The Russians hate spilling vodka,” says Spawque.

The Big Three (or possibly Big Two with a remote chance of Big One) are nervous that all of the cup holder suppliers will move out of Detroit, leaving them holding the cups. Ford spokesperson Dawn Paemence warns it could be the straw that breaks the mustang’s back. “Cup holders, wide-screen DVD players and large-rump heated seats are the only reason anyone buys American anymore.”

Are you a plumber upset by the sudden competition for all those lucrative pipe snakings? Maybe you’ve lost your seven-figure salary due to some ‘off balance sheet’ accounting. While things may look bleak, there are plenty of jobs to be had by the industrious. According to the Association for American Opportunists, here are five high paying jobs you can get now.

Arsonist
While torching soon-to-be foreclosed homes and cars may seem like a no-brainer, many people just don’t have the stomach for it. That’s where you come in. As a professional arsonist you can command a healthy fee for a job that doesn’t take long and offers a flexible schedule. Start small by offering your to burn down the neighbors tool shed – you know he’s not current on those riding lawn mower payments!

Piggy Bank Mosaic Artist
Now is the time to get into the mosaic business. With more people breaking into their piggy banks, ceramic shards are everywhere and free for the taking. Because this is technically recycling, you may be able to get your hands on some government grants. And remember, soup bowls will be in demand.

Hummer Converter
Construction work may be hard to come by, but clever carpenters can make big bucks converting gas-guzzling Hummers into livable residences. Roomier than a refrigerator box and cheaper to heat than a trailer, converted Hummers are the perfect solution for those who once lived beyond their means.

Husband to Madonna
With Guy Ritchie out of the picture, this field is wide open. However, be warned that Madonna’s lack of preference for gender will create fierce competition for this position. If Madonna’s taken, try for Cloris Leachman. (Some dancing ability may be required.) Either way, make sure to renew your subscription to AARP magazine and clip your Poligrip coupons first.

Professional Vetter
After the mayhem over McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate, politicians everywhere are taking more interest in the backgrounds of those they associate with. Work is everywhere. All you have to do is uncover dirty little secrets. Somewhere there’s a PTA board member who hates arts and crafts, a Toyota salesman driving a Prius, and guy dating Jennifer Aniston, but pining for Brad Pitt.

The Association for American Opportunists encourages job seekers to remember that old rules do not apply. Suits and ties say ‘I’m a liar who’ll steal your money and sabotage your economy’. Now is the time to dumb down your knowledge of the English language and get a new tattoo. Carrying a 6-pack can’t hurt either. If you’re lucky and work hard, you may just get one of those high falutin’ plumber jobs one day.

VATICAN CITY — Bucking the downward spiral of virtually every other nation’s stock market, the Vatican City Stock Exchange and Souvenir Shop (VCSESS) posted its seven-thousand-nine-hundredth straight quarter of growth. “That’s 1,975 straight years,” said Father Earl “Father” Hines, the Vatican’s Treasury Secretary. “Contrary to what President Bush says, I think we know who God is investing in.”

Vatican City, the world’s smallest country, also has the world’s smallest stock market. The S&PP (Saints & Poor People) Index consists of the country’s three largest corporations: Heavenly Holy Water, Icons R Us and ExorcismCrafters. “With the price of holy water at over $100 a barrel, HHW had another record year,” said Father Hines. “Icons R Us got a big boost from Pope Benedict naming some new saints, and the whole “good versus evil” mindset these days has made ExorcismCrafters virtually recession-proof.”

Stocks on the VCSESS are traded on the floor in the back room of the Sistine Candles souvenir shop near St. Peter’s Square. With the rest of the world’s markets in freefall, the phone at the shop has been ringing off the hook. “Everybody wantsa pizza da pie,” said shop and stock exchange manager Tony Alto in the fake Italian accent he uses for tourists. “Dat wise guy Paulson, always asking for my home phone number. He’s such a meatball.”

Father Hines says there’s no secret to the success of the Vatican City economy. “It’s simple. We pray every morning for world peace. We pray at noon for food for everyone. We pray every night for a good life for all peoples. Oh, and we never buy derivatives.”

WASHINGTON, DC — Despite persistent rumors in the Washington Post and constant Internet buzz to the contrary, Treasury Secretary Henry “Bald Is Beautiful” Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben “Beard Is Beautiful” Bernanke deny they are having a “bromance.” “Unless that means we’ve shared an occasional Scotch and Bromo Seltzer, it’s a bunch of hooey,” Bernanke told reporters from the Wall Street Journal and People magazine camped outside his office.

Friends of both men confirm the bromance, but declined to comment on record. “Those two are like Barney Stinson and Ted Mosby, only without the sexual innuendos … unless you count that costume party when they painted nipples on their bald heads and came as Dolly Parton’s chest,” said a former Fed chairman who was succeeded by Bernanke. “If their lives were a sitcom, it’d be called ‘How I Met Your Broker’.”

“I can’t believe they get along so well because they’re total opposites. I nicknamed them the Odd Lot Couple,” said the CEO of a firm that rhymes with Boldman Whacks. “Hank’s office looks like the Three Stooges had a paper fight there, while you could eat off of Ben’s floor. In fact, that’s one of the things he makes people do before they can get an appointment to see him.”

Even President Bush has seen evidence of a Paulson-Bernanke bromance. “When they were workin’ on the bailout, they were stuck together like two peas on a baby, or somethin’ like that.”

Both men’s wives refused to comment on the bromance, but each admitted they’ve spent a lot of time together recently watching Oprah, eating cookie dough and filling out Cosmo quizzes.

NEW YORK, NY – CNBC announced today they will roll out new financial program ‘Hard on Cash’, starring Brat Pitt and George Clooney. The network hopes to capture market share among female viewers by featuring Pitt and Clooney covering topics related to household finances while wearing unbuttoned shirts and tight fitting trousers.

Clooney draws on his experience playing a TV doctor to help families decrease health care costs by teaching families how to provided their own medical treatment. Pitt is expected to focus on managing the household budget while raising 612 kids.

You won’t catch CNBC’s other popular Money Honeys, Erin Burnett and Maria Bartiromo, working with Clooney and Pitt. “They’re very small men who would look like midgets next to the ladies,” said a network executive. “Besides Angelina Jolie has forbidden Pitt to appear on screen with another woman, including Clooney in drag.”

While the primary audience for ‘Hard on Cash’ will be female, the network also hopes to appeal to a male audience with such features as how to make your annual salary in one casino heist, buying your next Italian villa at below market price, and saving money by only shaving every other day.

BOSTON, MA — Harvard Business School (motto: “We should have flunked Bush, OK?”) is the latest organization to jump on the “Joe the Plumber” bandwagon by offering its first Masters of Business Administration degree in plumbing. “We never realized plumbers made that kind of money,” said Dean of New Degree Programs Biff “Skippy” Wellington V. “And with a Harvard MBA, they’ll be able to command four times as much.”

“Joe the Plumber” is Samuel Wurzelbacher, the Ohio plumbing company employee made famous by John McCain for asking Barack Obama about what his taxes would be if he had a plumbing company making more than $250,000 a year. Wurzelbacher does not have a degree of any kind in plumbing, nor even a license. That will change next spring when he receives an honorary Plumbing MBA after giving the commencement speech at the Harvard Business School graduation ceremony. “We’re also making him the first member of the plumbing fraternity,” said Biff. “Alpha Beta Krappa.”

To receive a Harvard MBA in Plumbing, students must complete a standard two-year program. The first year will focus on a Required Curriculum including courses in Commode Management, Water Supply & Demand and Rear Cleavage Control. The second year focuses on an Elective Curriculum including courses in Raising Equity While Lowering Water Pressure, The Third World – A Plumbers’ Heaven and How To Become Flush With Capital. Areas of specialization include Mansions, Gold Fixtures and Bidets.

Wellington says applications for a Harvard Plumbing MBA are pouring in and only the top ten percent will be accepted. “It’s a level playing field since none of the applicants have parents who went to school here.” Students interested in carpentry, drywall or electricity are out of luck since Harvard has no plans to offer MBAs in those disciplines. “We’re praying McCain’s next find is Joe the Bailout Funds Manager,” said Wellington.

NEW YORK, NY — In an effort to stop panic trading and smooth out the roller coaster swings of the markets, Treasury Secretary Hank “Wait – I’ve Got Another Idea!” Paulson today ordered the IT department of the New York Stock Exchange to enable Mail Goggles on all of the computers used on the trading floor until further notice. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but for once President Bush was right,” said Paulson. “Wall Street is still drunk and the world economy can’t survive 30 days of rehab.”

As anyone who’s in the know knows (and if you don’t, here’s your big chance), Mail Goggles is a new experimental feature in Google’s Gmail program that helps stamp out drunken e-mailing by forcing users to perform five simple math problems in 60 seconds before sending e-mails between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. on weekends. According to a recent government study, the implementation of this feature on Congressional computers two weeks ago has already saved the jobs of four senators and kept three lobbyists out of Guantanamo.

Paulson ordered the NYSE IT department to change the operational time of Mail Goggles to match the hours the exchange is open, and to replace the last math problem with a biblical question about Armageddon just to shake up the traders. In addition to emails and twitters, the NYSE Mail Goggles will put a 60 second delay on all stock trades, currency exchanges and searches on the phrase “Great Depression.”

As an added precaution, Paulson also ordered baby monitors to be installed on the floor of the exchange to pick up the sound of crying.

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DEKALB COUNTY, GA — The increased usage by CNBC of the Octobox – a screen shot of eight heads talking at once – has prompted the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (motto: “This stuff must be dangerous or we wouldn’t be located in DeKalb County, Georgia”) to issue a warning advising CNBC viewers to limit their exposure to Octoboxes to ten seconds or less per day. “We’ve been seeing a lot of CNBC viewers suffering epileptic-like seizures who were neither epileptic nor serious stock market players,” said Dr. K.L. Dair of the CDC. “We believe the seizures are caused by overexposure to Octoboxes, kind of like those Japanese kids who watch too much anime.”

CNBC defends its usage of Octoboxes. “It’s the only way to out-fair-and-balance Fox News,” said CNBC spokesperson Pei Coque. “With the Octobox, we can argue every side of an issue: left, right, moderate, undecided, ignorant, cave-dweller, foreigner and random hot blonde.”

Dr. K.L. Dair describes one Octobox sufferer brought to the CDC. “The poor man had just watched eight different people simultaneously attempt to explain the Treasury Department’s bailout program. His eyes were crossed in the rare up-down position and he had swallowed his tongue, his fist and a copy of the Wall Street Journal.” The CDC has officially named this condition “Octoboxyosbourne.”

Fortunately for Octoboxyosbourne sufferers, help is on the way. Pfizer (motto: “One of the side effects is ignoring the side effects”) has rushed into development a drug aimed at reducing the effects of the seizures and possibly even preventing them. Called OctoboxyContin, the hallucinogenic drug is highly addictive and is currently being tested at the firm’s Limbaugh Laboratories. While not scheduled to be released until 2009, commercials for OctoboxyContin are already being run on CNBC, NBC and MTV.

“The drug works great, but it may be too little too late,” warns the CDC’s Dr. Dair. “CNBC’s election night coverage team is secretly testing a Decabox.”

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