If there were no Russia, Poland would vanish. Poland only exists in opposition to Russia, the country Poland loves to hate. Compared to Russia, Poland is everything it wants to be: Western, Gentle, Civilized. With Russia gone, Poland would suddenly look awfully Eastern, uncivilized and barbaric. Russia is like the ugly friend who makes the plain girl look good by comparison. Please, keep them together!
18. Hot chick tennis players
If it wasn't for the Russian girls, women's tennis would be a sporting event only Janet Reno could enjoy. Thanks to Russia's long isolation, its women players still actually think of themselves as female. Several of them are even rumored to be practicing heterosexuals, and all of them are instantly identifiable as women, in sharp contrast to their Western opponents, most of whom look like linebackers in unconvincing drag.
There's nothing like the occasional news report about a fire caused by an exploded glasnost-vintage Elektron TV burning down an apartment building to remind us of the problems caused by a centrally-planned economy. Plus, it keeps folks from agitating for universal healthcare and other commie programs.
Not since '45 has Russia so selflessly sacrificed its youth so that Europe could speak with a single, united voice. Given the continuous bickering among member states, Old Europe versus New Europe, spats over which cheeses can be called what from where, and so forth, the EU desperately needed something it could agree on. Chechnya gives the EU an issue it can show resolve over, passing unanimous resolutions demanding the immediate cessation of violence and finally acting like the unified state it pretends to be.
Have you been back to the U.S. recently? In New York, butts cost 10 bucks a pack -- more than a chek of smack in Moscow! You can't smoke in any pub in Ireland anymore, while on the continent, even traditional smokers' havens like France and Italy have had tough new laws forced down their scratchy throats by the EU. Compare that with Russia, where even sportskompleksy are permeated by a thick fog of Prima haze. Keep it as a reserve for the black-lunged masses, because they have votes too.
Come on, aside from giving the Coalition of the Willing a few more yes-monkeys, what purpose does NATO really serve these days? If countries want to keep joining it, it has to stand for something, doesn't it? Serbia's hardly enough of a threat to justify its continued existence. So that "something" has to be containing the Russian Bear. Why else was the first NATO operation in the Baltics an airspace-sovereignty pissing contest backed up by a squadron of F-16s?
21. The American steel industry
With the American steel industry in a perpetual crisis, what it needs are investors who are more concerned with prestige than the bottom line. Where else but Russia can you find a businessman at once successful and totally unconcerned with basic market principles like profit and loss? Russian magnates will be more than happy to subsidize American steel production, just to brag to their friends that their business is a multinational.
22. the eXile
The eXile is Russia and Russia is the eXile. Each would perish without the other. At any rate, the eXile would definitely go under if it had to publish in a normal country, with functioning libel laws. We found that out the hard way, when a breakaway faction tried to start up a stateside eXile. They couldn't even get the first issue into print; the printing press refused to touch it for fear of lawsuits. Land of the Free, our eXiled ass! Russia is the only place where our kind of freedom -- freedom from legal consequences -- can flourish.
23. North Korea
Kim Jong-Il, dictator of North Korea, is crazy as a mink on speed and in possession of several nuclear weapons. Russia is one of the few places he'll even think about visiting. He's comfortable with Russians -- after all, Kim was born here. Every time his private train pulls into a Russian station and the Dear Leader looks out at a comforting vista of endless socialist apartment blocks, he breathes easier -- and the nuclear-war clock moves a few seconds back from midnight.