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Who'd Replace the Crafty Queen?

With Martha Stewart facing an uncertain future, candidates are coming out of the wall sconces.


Inquiring minds want to know: Will Martha Stewart go to the slammer for insider trading and, if she does, who will take her place? To find out, we constructed a time machine using metal alloys we mined with a melon baller, physics equations we derived while baking cranberry-pecan tarts and jet fuel we hand-pumped from a backyard oil well and refined with a salad spinner.

We then traveled to January 2003, where we found Martha sitting in stir, trading 15 cartons of cigarettes for a gallon of heirloom rose-colored paint to brighten her cell. Here's a rundown of other developments in the Marthagate scandal:

Jan. 22, 2003: A federal judge sentences Martha to four years in prison for SEC violations, obstruction of justice and "just being generally annoying." Within hours, celebrities begin jockeying to become "the next Martha Stewart." Al Gore is the first to announce his candidacy. Armed with position papers on window treatments and squash-planting, he taps Sen. Joseph Lieberman to become "vice-Martha."

Jan. 24: In prison, Martha volunteers for kitchen duty, preparing a sumptuous banquet of grilled mystery meat with a cilantro mint rub and an herb salad grown in the prison yard.

Jan. 28: Professional litigant Michael Newdow, looking for a fresh challenge after getting "under God" banned from the Pledge of Allegiance, files a lawsuit to have the entire Gregorian calendar system declared unconstitutional because it's based on the birth of Jesus and violates the separation of church and state. The Supreme Court agrees and, after drawing numbers from a hat, officially changes 2003 to 1548. Out of work, God applies for the Martha job.

Jan. 30, 1548: Martha remodels her jail cell with hand-embroidered shiv cozies, aluminum foil votive candles and window coverings fashioned from dental floss.

Jan. 31: Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge throws his hat in the ring to succeed Martha Stewart, saying, "America won't truly be secure until the hues of our living rooms resonate with the color palettes of our plush natural cotton bath towels."

Feb. 1: Using nothing but a bar of soap and a rusty whisk, Martha creates intricately patterned doilies for Florida's electric chair.

Feb. 2: Exploiting the popularity of his TV series, Ozzy Osbourne proclaims himself "the new Martha #@$%-ing Stewart. All I need is a bloody cookbook and my empire will be complete."

Feb. 3: Parole--it's a good thing. Martha is released from prison. Fox TV immediately recruits her for its next "Celebrity Boxing" show, where she and the Prince of Darkness duke it out for the title of Diva of Domesticity. Other celebrity matches on the program include Capt. Kirk versus Mr. Spock; Thing from "The Addams Family" versus the Hamburger Helper hand; Mr. T versus Mr. Coffee; and the Backstreet Boys versus five steam rollers.

Feb. 4: After beating Ozzy to a pulp, Martha issues a revised Pledge of Allegiance in which Americans are united as "one nation, under Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., with liberty and decorative wall sconces for all."

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