Homey the Clown. Krusty the Clown. Bozo the Clown. Herman the Clown.Michelle the Clown. Will someone save us from these meddlesome clowns? Dear god…and, I am an anti-theist.

Gail Collins of the Times has summed up the entire spectacle perfectly. This is why no one is paying attention…and I’m not sure if it’s because we’re missing something important, or if we’re just smarter than the people paying attention to this. Since the various sites that I write for pay me in expired Godfather’s pizza coupons, I expect that I fall somewhere in the middle, but it has to suck to be Charlie Rose.

Here is how presidential primary debates go down in history. The tapes are stored in a moisture-proof vault in a civil defense cave in Indiana. If the world as we know it should come to an end, the surviving members of our species will be able to relive these deeply American contests and pass their knowledge on to their children. Soon, they will go forth and repopulate a world in which all the boys sit around looking smug like Newt Gingrich and all the girls sound like Michele Bachmann. That is what they mean by the living will envy the dead.

I have given up wondering why reasonable and intelligent people are still Republicans. As Alan Grayson pointed out on Maher, one party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the big banks, and the other one panders to them. I’m just wondering why reasonable and intelligent people consider running for President. Jon Huntsman, I’m talking to you.

While Rick Perry has sunk to smug irrelevance and promises of a secret plan to end the war in Vietnam…I mean, to produce jobs…and Romney has a 59 page, 119 point, 9 pillar program that no-one is going to read, Herman Cain has three pillars, like a stool. This is the 9-9-9 plan…9 percent flat income tax, 9 percent flat corporate tax, 9 percent sales tax. This is the kind of thinking of got us 100% cheese product on Godfather’s pizza. The numbers do not work…seriously. The numbers do not work. It’s a ludicrous idea, up there with the gold standard and hanging Ben Bernanke from the sour apple tree. Usually, when somebody decides to put out some nonsense like this, they at least bother to find a bunch of economists to talk about how brilliant it is. Cain refuses to tell us who came up with this idea, except that it’s his and he’s gonna go tell it on the mountain. Maddow pointed out last night that the phrase 9-9-9 was tossed out 25 times in the debate. The best line of the evening was Huntsman’s comparison of the “plan” to the cost of a box of pizza. Or, Bachmann’s numerology, where you turn the numbers upside down to turn it into 666. (By the way, since Revelations was written in Greek, the real number of the beast is , unless you think that John of Patmos wrote in English. Which, I suspect at some level she does…)

OK, 90% of what people say is bullshit. But, the ignorance of these folks is frightening. Romney now looks good to some because so many of them look so bad. But, as Collins points out in succinct brilliance,

It was the usual good time for all, except you do kind of wonder what the heck gives this particular crowd of people the right to be the nation s official presidential contenders. What do they have in common? Intelligence? Appropriate experience? A large base of followers? Not so much. What have they got? They ve all got glib. Except one. It s enough to make you feel sorry for Rick Perry. If he wasn t Rick Perry.

There are serious Republicans. They just aren’t running for their party’s nomination. They’re largely standing on the sidelines, looking aghast. Or, endorsing Romney as the least of all evils. Makes you nostalgic for John McCain.

Just to bitchslap Newt Gingrich for a second — do you think he ever got through a day in middle and high school without getting a wedgie or a swirly? — the idea of putting Barney Frank and Chris Dodd in prison for their legislation is actually in contradiction of the constitution. The whole congressional immunity, bill of attainder thing…Of course, he was the Speaker of the House who forced the impeachment of the President of the United States for what was in effect a very private matter while engaging in the same behavior repeatedly. Hypocrisy is not a problem for this guy. A number of people have commented that he’s really showing up for the debates because, deep down, he’s really running for president in his head…and the new alternative history novel he’s working on. I think Nicole Wallace should go to work for him to gather material for her franchise of novels about thinly disguised, dysfunctional politicians.