AOL Buys France

In a surprise announcement, AOL Time Warner announced Friday that it had acquired France. This marks the first time that a multimedia company has purchased an entire nation.

"We had considered other countries," chairman Steve Case admitted, "but we were just blown away by France's great visuals and incredible depth of content."

"It's all about the cheese," countered the company's increasingly unorthodox CEO, Gerald Levin. "They've got some really stinky cheese."

With its population of nearly 59 million people, its natural resources of coal, iron ore, bauxite and potash, its history of fine art, literature and incomprehensible literary theory, and the exciting film stylistics of Gerard Depardieu, France makes an ideal counterpart to Time AOL's content, analysts say. "We've got print, movies, television and, of course, a sizable chunk of the Internet audience," Case announced at a hastily called news conference. "They've got Balzac, the existentialists and Serge Gainsbourg. I think the fit was pretty obvious."

"Have you tried their fries?" Levin asked the assembled journalists. "They eat them with f*cking mayonnaise!"

French President Jacques Chirac was resistant to the idea, according to Case, until AOL Time Warner killed him. "Now he likes it just fine."

French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, posting in an AOL chat room, said the French people have been stuck in double-digit unemployment for over a decade now and were looking forward to working with their American counterparts online. Case says the decision to buy France occurred to him and Levin as they flew over the European nation last week. "Wouldn't it be funny if that was all ours?" He asked of the former Time Warner CEO.

Despite renown its hauteur and fabulous women, the acquisition struck some analysts as misguided. "This comes at a time when a lot of investors would like to see more tangibles in AOL Time Warner," said Lazlo Toth of Jupiter Communications. "France seems silly, while a nice Scandinavian nation would have shown more gravitas. They're wired for sound there, too."

The deal must first be approved by the SEC, the CIA, 'N Sync, UNESCO and the cast of Marvin's Room. Case said he expected no trouble from any quarter. "Just remember what happened to Chirac," he cautioned.

French pop sensation Johnny Halliday did not return calls seeking comment.