"Hello everyone. I'm Bob Costas, saying 'Welcome back to NBC, your Peacock Network for the 2000 Olympics and Third Rock from the Sun.' We're all very excited to be coming to you live right now from Sydney, Australia. Of course, due to the time-zone difference, and because you're watching me on a tape-delay satellite feed, it's actually day after tomorrow or sometime last week. But that's okay, because it's also time to say hello to a couple of demographically selected co-hosts we picked carefully to make sure our ratings don't tank like they did last time. On my left, here's Kathie Lee Gifford, and on my right, Keanu Reeves."

"I've dropped the 'Gifford' part, Bob."

"Fine. Everything cool with you, Keanu?"

"Yup. Could I get a bottled water?"

"No problem. Now, the big story here in Sydney is numbers. We have 200 countries represented here, with 10,000 athletes, and more than 20,000 journalists trying to match their own personal best, which will be finding something to talk about for 17 straight days."

"That's right, Bob. And that works out to 3 million feet of film about kangaroos, 4 million pictures of koala bears, and 5 million references to Crocodile Dundee."

"Quite impressive. There'll also be some big surprises for viewers around the world, like finding out that no one here really says 'Let's put a shrimp on the barbie' or actually drinks Foster's Lager."

"Wait! I'll have one!"

"All right, Keanu. Now, let's talk about the incredible challenges the International Olympic Committee has had to face in putting this thing together."

"That's right, Bob. They had to count all that money they got from the people in Salt Lake City, which was quite a task."

"Exactly. And that's why they're making some key changes this time around to enhance the Olympics' image. For example, instead of entering the stadium in alphabetical order this year, all the participating nations will line up based on their current record of human-rights violations."

"Which is a great idea. And don't forget another new addition to the excitement this year, the One-World Salute to Performance-Enhancing Substances."

"Yes, indeed. That's a bit of pageantry you won't want to miss. Each country will dress its athletes in native costumes representing diuretics, beta blockers, and erythropoietin. Then, they'll all join hands and shout, 'We take steroids!' in 97 different languages."

"It'll be hard not to choke up during that."

"You bet. But that's only the beginning. One of the problems in past years has been obscure countries winning all the events, which made viewers in the big countries tune out and go to bed early ? you know how the sponsors hate that ? so this year they've increased the number of medals. In addition to gold, silver, and bronze, they'll also be awarding aluminum, plywood, and felt."

"The more, the merrier."

"Exactly. They've also done away with the judges, most of whom were crooked anyway. Instead, they're going to let viewers vote out athletes they don't like. I know that's a reform you've been pushing for, Kathie Lee."

"Right you are, Bob. That woman from Belgium, for example. I don't care how fast she can run. I hate her hairdo, so goodbye."

"Well said. Now, they've also modified the rules to make the competition even more fierce. State-of-the-art swimsuits to maximize speed in the water, aerodynamic designs for the triathlon bikes. And, most exciting, a new 'bionic' rule." "How will that work, Bob?"

"Well, for example, one of the shot-putters has had his right arm replaced by a hydraulic forklift."

"Oooh, that should make things interesting."

"That's what they're hoping. So let's take a break right now while the police are clearing the stadium of all those protesting Aborigines, who are attempting to put out the Olympic flame with a fire extinguisher. Then, we'll be back to explain the 2000 Olympics' newest event ? nude trampoline water polo ? right after this."

Copyright 2000 by Garry Lee Wright. All rights reserved. GLW's on WGN (AM radio 720) Chicago. Listen and email at wgnradio.com.

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