The 2012 News Quiz: Before It Happens
What shocks, scandals, and triumphs will the next 12 months bring?
The biggest shock of the 2012 presidential race comes --
-- in January, when Jon Huntsman surges into contention with unexpectedly strong showings in New Hampshire. Pundits attribute it to a last-minute endorsement from Justin Bieber.
-- in March, when Ron Paul reveals himself to be a gifted freestyle rapper during an appearance on Saturday Night Live.
-- in July, when in a Fox News interview, former president Bill Clinton expresses tepid support for Mitt Romney, sending both Democrats and Republicans into a week of frenzied spinning.
-- in October, when vice presidential candidate Condoleezza Rice trounces Joe Biden in their debate, prompting dozens of newspapers around the country to all run the same headline: SAY IT AIN'T SO, JOE.
Before the end of 2012, Kim Kardashian will --
-- sign an endorsement deal with a chain of fast-food restaurants in Japan.
-- be caught canoodling with Ashton Kutcher.
-- write another novel.
-- abandon her aspirations toward universal notoriety in favor of a quiet life in suburban Ohio.
-- date a professional athlete.
Spurred by the populist revolts of 2011, this year people will rise up and cast off the tyranny of --
... Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
... garish and poorly executed plastic surgery.
... an impotent Congress paralyzed by middle-school-style bickering.
... the Palins.
The least surprising part of the 2012 Oscars will be when --
... Meryl Streep wins Best Actress for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
... The Artist wins Best Picture.
... George Clooney wins Best Actor for his portrayal of Matt King in The Descendants.
... the show runs an hour long, the winners squeeze political messages into their acceptance speeches, and the critics say that while he was much better than Anne Hathaway and James Franco, Billy Crystal brought less enthusiasm to his hosting gig in 2012 than he did back in the '90s.
What literary star will set the publishing world abuzz with an unlikely career turn?
Jonathan Franzen and Oprah co-host a weekly show in praise of book critics on her cable network. …