All hail the triviocray!
“Good evening, and greetings from The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. I’m Charles Gibson, and on behalf of all of us at ABC News, I want to welcome you to this debate between the two remaining Democratic candidates for president.
“We meet here just days before the crucial Pennsylvania primary, and in the city where, more than 200 years ago, our Founding Fathers acted on their deeply held belief that governing this nation was serious business, worthy of sober discussion and careful consideration of the critical issues at stake.
“What a bunch of losers.
“Let me take a moment to set out some of the ground rules for tonight’s debate. So much has happened in the world, and right here in the United States, since these two candidates last had an opportunity to be questioned side by side. Needless to say, we expect to touch on several of those issues if we have any time left after we deal with the juicier stuff, like flag pins.
“Joining me in the questioning tonight will be George Clintonopoulos…”
“Whatever. And George and I will be ably assisted by questions that come from ordinary Pennsylvanians—you’ll see them on video clips throughout the evening. We’ll also use questions that come from ordinary conservative talk-show hosts, who’d like nothing more than to see these candidates beat each other to a pulp.
“We’ll begin each segment with a person with a deep voice reading a brief excerpt from the Constitution itself. Once that’s out of the way, we’ll dive right back into the gutter.
“Just so you know, we’ll be operating this evening under time ‘guidelines,’ rather than strict limits, and we expect to be lenient in how we dole out the time. Each of the candidates will have approximately 90 seconds to answer a question, and I will have as long as I need to interrupt any answers I disagree with, especially when it comes to the capital gains tax.
“Both George and I will press the candidates to be precise in their answers—there are very few issues in this campaign that can’t be handled with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ From time to time, we’ll also insist that the candidates make iron-clad ‘pledges’ about how they’ll react to future events none of us can possibly predict. And of course, we’ll reserve the right to trot out the occasional trick question like ‘Does your pastor love America as much as you do?’
“By the way, we’ll be keeping time on two different clocks up here, and should we find that one of the candidates—Sen. Obama, for instance—has had more time to speak as he tries to wriggle away from our perfectly legitimate questions about why he’s being supported by dangerous radicals from the ’60s, for instance, we won’t hesitate to offer Sen. Clinton additional time to pile on and land a few punches of her own.
“On occasion while the candidates are speaking, our cameras will also cut away to flattering close-ups of Chelsea Clinton. If viewers want to speculate about why nobody from Sen. Obama’s family even bothered to show up tonight, and what that says about their respect for the good people of Pennsylvania—well, they can draw their own conclusions.
“And now that we’ve got all the housekeeping out of the way, let me officially introduce the candidates: The senator from New York, Hillary Clinton…”
“Good to be here, Charlie.”
“And the senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.”
“That’s a pile of crap, senator.”
“We’ll be back with more of our debate right after this.”
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.