illustrations by Danny Schwartz

Illustrations by Danny Schwartz

Spoiler alert: Mitt Romney is going to win the Republican nomination for president. I'm 95 percent sure that's what's going to happen. Sure, the teabaggy base will make some crazy noise, but the Republican nomination process is nothing if not orderly: Romney was the runner-up to John McCain last time around, so he'll probably be at the top of the ticket this year. Team Romney is reportedly preparing for a very long nomination battle—something akin to Barack Obama's They Live–style fight with Hillary Clinton in 2008—but barring an enormously entertaining flameout, he's the guy to beat.

Then again, this is hardly a normal campaign year. Candidates seem to be actively fleeing from the race. Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, and Mitch Daniels have already pulled out. And the two candidates the Republican media most wants to run—Chris Christie and Jeb Bush—have outright refused. (It's hilarious that the party's greatest hopes rest on a Bush and the teabaggy governor of New Jersey, who can't even poll higher than President Obama in his own state.)

By the time you read these words, someone else might have collapsed in a puddle of self-regard or sexual impropriety or idiocy. It's the lamest field of candidates in recent memory.

This is a race to the bottom, which is why it's taken so long to get started. Most of these candidates—the few who aren't totally delusional—are desperately trying to wind up as the nominee for vice president. That's the best advertising in the world for their eventual 2016 presidential race. So the question is, who's gonna bottom to Romney's top? Who is the second-best candidate in this field of used-car salesmen and wrinkly faced toddlers?

And so, here we are, handicapping the handicapped.

MICHELE BACHMANN

Where did this lady come from?

She's a congresswoman from Minnesota and queen of the teabaggers.

What's her problem?

She's a fucking nutjob is her problem. A complete list of the stupid things she's said and done would not fit in this newspaper.

Is she serious?

Unfortunately, amazingly, yes. When Jared Loughner knocked out Sarah Palin's presidential aspirations by taking her violent rhetoric way too literally, Old Crazy-Eyed Bachmann saw an opening and she's going for it.

JOHN BOLTON

Where did this guy come from?

Back in 2005, George W. Bush thought it would be hee-larious to appoint John Bolton, a United Nations–hating hawk, as the US representative to the United Nations. Bush assigned Bolton to the seat when the Senate was on break, and his UN career ended in 2006, when he realized he would never get past a real Senate confirmation hearing and resigned.

What's his problem?

He's a Muslim-hating xenophobe who would blow up the entire planet if you gave him a half second's access to the nuke launch codes.

Is he serious?

Probably. He believes he should run the country and recently equated the Obama administration to "indigestion." Thankfully, his base consists of 12 lunatic Islamophobic bloggers including Pamela "Atlas Shrugs" Geller.

HERMAN CAIN

Where did this guy come from?

He was the CEO of Godfather's Pizza and a failed Senate candidate, and now he's a talk-radio host in the Atlanta area.

What's his problem?

He insists that as a black Republican, he's "Obama's worst nightmare." He's one of those annoying "run America like a business" douches who insists you can apply lessons learned from running a crappy pizza chain to being commander in chief of the armed forces. He's widely regarded as the best speaker in the field, though it's unclear if Republicans just say that because they're shocked a black guy can form complete sentences on conservative subjects.

Is he serious?

Cain was the first person to announce a presidential exploratory committee for 2012, so you could say he's the most serious candidate to date, but his main goal right now seems to be winning online polls on conservative sites. The Fox News focus groups chose him as the winner of the first Republican debate, which could mean that Republicans are dumb enough to think that the only reason Obama is president is because he's black, so they'll vote in a black guy in order to confuse and disorient Democrats. This is known in politics as "The Michael Steele Stratagem."

JIM DeMINT

Where did this guy come from?

He's a teabaggy senator from South Carolina.

What's his problem?

He's a hardcore conservative and a sex-o-phobe (he doesn't think gays and sexually active single people should be teachers).

Is he serious?

Not so much. DeMint has said he doesn't want to run for president (which probably makes sense; anyone as anti-sex as he is probably has something to hide from the national press corps), but teabagger "think" tanks might try to force him into running by arranging for completely spontaneous Draft DeMint blogs, Facebook groups, and websites.

NEWT GINGRICH

Where did this guy come from?

He was Speaker of the House during Bill Clinton's presidency, back in the early 1800s. He has done literally nothing since then.

What's his problem?

How much time do you have? His first official week in the race, he called Republican wunderkind Paul Ryan's Medicare-murdering budget "right-wing social engineering," which prompted a huge Republican backlash. He whined about it, then apologized, then said that anyone who quoted him would be misquoting him. Then it came out that he owed high-end jeweler Tiffany's somewhere between a quarter and a half million dollars in 2005 and 2006, which makes him look even more like an elitist douchebag—an image he has to shake to get anywhere in the primaries.

Is he serious?

One popular theory is that Gingrich has to make a feeble attempt at the White House every so often in order to stay relevant within his lucrative careers as a Fox News pundit and think tank darling. In other words, he's just doing brand maintenance.

RUDY GIULIANI

Where did this guy come from?

He's the crossdressing mayor of 9/11.

What's his problem?

9/11 broke his brain. His last presidential run was apparently managed by a suicidal half-blind parakeet.

Is he serious?

Not really, but his name just keeps coming up, so he gets a mention in every Republican presidential roundup. It's like the Special Olympics in here.

JON HUNTSMAN

Where did this guy come from?

Mitt Romney is so wealthy that he maintains a Mormon laboratory that grows clones for spare parts, in case Romney develops cancer. One of these clones escaped, took the obviously fake name "Jon Huntsman," and became governor of Utah and then US ambassador to China under President Obama.

What's his problem?

President Obama praises him repeatedly for his good, bipartisan work as ambassador. Huntsman also praised Obama in a letter as a "remarkable leader." He likes civil unions for gays and he wished the stimulus package was bigger, among other leftist views. This will not fly in Republican Base Land.

Is he serious?

For some reason, yes. Nobody can figure out the Huntsman strategy; maybe he's trying to just glide unnoticed up the middle to become the last man standing? In any case, it's an improbable journey.

GARY JOHNSON

Where did this guy come from?

He used to be governor of New Mexico.

What's his problem?

He's a libertarian who's running to be "The People's President," so expect a no-frills campaign that will get little to no media attention. Willie Nelson endorsed him, so you know he's good on pot issues.

Is he serious?

He was the first person outside Barack Obama to outright announce his candidacy for president without any of the mincing "exploratory commission" legalese, so yes. But the problem is that he's the second, lesser-known libertarian in a race that includes Ron Paul, which basically makes him the Invisible Man.

SARAH PALIN

Where did this lady come from?

Hell. The darkest pits of hell, where automobiles run on a mixture of tar and crystal meth, where babies give birth to their own cousins, and where literacy will get you fed to the wolves—and then the wolves will be shot from helicopters and harvested for two meager drops of oil extracted from their anal glands.

What's her problem?

She's a used-up attention whore who's running out of attention.

Is she serious?

About running for president? No. About believing that it is every American's duty to lovingly attend to every bit of excrement that slithers out from between her two glossy lips? Yes. She might have to make a cursory run for president in order to keep her brand relevant, but she's happier where she is right now, as a well-paid shill for idiocy who is blessedly free from having to face the consequences of her actions.

RON PAUL

Where did this guy come from?

He represents Texas in the House of Representatives.

What's his problem?

He's a hardcore libertarian who wants the government to basically wither up and die, but he also believes it's well within the government's rights to control a woman's body. His followers are a ragtag group of 9/11 truthers, white supremacists, and Ayn Rand freaks.

Is he serious?

And how. He might even believe he's the messiah at this point, thanks to the thunderous adulation of his creepy troll-horde. The scary thing is, this could be Ron Paul's time. The teabaggers could climb on board his crazy train if DeMint doesn't run, and he might just wind up giving the front-runner a real scare. But it's okay: The Republican establishment must have some sort of a plan for the likely occasion of their teabagger Frankenstein's monster going out of control and trying to seize the party, right? I mean, they must have seen that coming when they fomented the armies of crazies around the country two years ago, right? Um, right?

TIM PAWLENTY

Where did this guy come from?

He's the former governor of Minnesota and a grown man who occasionally refers to himself as "T-Paw."

What's his problem?

Even though he never scores very high in the polls, he's considered a front-runner because he was the governor of a blue state and he's not currently frothing at the mouth or fucking a 6-year-old boy.

Is he serious?

Definitely. Kind of. Conventional wisdom has Pawlenty making a solid show in the race, although he was asked by Time magazine why he wanted to be president a couple days ago and he said, "I don't know, I wish I had a good answer for you on that."

RICK PERRY

Where did this guy come from?

He's the governor of Texas, which means he's a fucker.

What's his problem?

Perry is a state's rights guy—he once threatened to secede Texas from the union—but he takes millions of dollars from the federal government when he thinks nobody is looking.

Is he serious?

Probably not. His name keeps coming up, especially after the glorious Trump and Huck flameout from a couple weeks back made the field look especially thin. But he's got to know that a white proponent of state's rights from a Southern state talking shit about a black guy probably won't play so well in the press, right? Plus, there's all that hypocrisy about treating Uncle Sam like a welfare daddy, which the teabaggers will hypocritically ignore but the centrist independents will find repulsive.

MITT ROMNEY

Where did this guy come from?

He's the former governor of Massachusetts. He oversaw the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Yes, he seriously boasts about that.

What's his problem?

His problem is that he wants so badly to be president that he doesn't really stand for anything anymore. His father, former governor of Michigan George Romney, ran for president and lost in 1968, so maybe Mitt's got a George W. Bush–style case of the daddies?

Is he serious?

Oh yeah. Even though his health care reform plan was a model for Obama's health care reform plan, even though he's a Mormon who needs the support of bigoted evangelical Christians to win the nomination, even though he's vacillated on just about every single issue a presidential candidate can vacillate on—in spite of all that, he'll spend every last penny of his not-inconsiderable family wealth to stay in the race to the bitter end.

RICK SANTORUM

Where did this guy come from?

Back in the late 1950s, after a vigorous bout of anal sex, a frothy mix of lube and fecal matter came to life. This sentient puddle of shit and Vaseline went on to represent Pennsylvania in the Senate for 12 years before he was finally wiped out of the Senate.

What's his problem?

Besides the fact that you can't Google his name without being reminded of an act that the candidate himself finds morally reprehensible, he's also a bigot and a religious loon. He doesn't believe in evolution, he hates gays and women, and he recently prompted John McCain aide Mark Salter to say, "For pure, blind stupidity, nobody beats Santorum. In my 20 years in the Senate, I have never met a dumber member."

Is he serious?

He thinks he's being serious and that's why he's so funny. recommended