Setting: The Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, Virginia. Enter, stage right, five white guys, identically dressed.
Moderator: We’ll start tonight with Governor Romney. Tell me, Governor, just what makes you think that you’re such a big–?
Romney [Interrupting]: Well, I destroyed more jobs at Bain Capital than anyone else on this stage—tens of thousands. No other candidate even comes close.
Gingrich: Wait a moment, as Speaker of the House and as a historian—
Paul (in a winy little voice): Shouldn’t it be an historian?
Gingrich: As I was saying, when I closed down Congress, I furloughed hundreds of thousands of Obama appointees all in one fell swoop.
Perry: What’s a fell swoop?
Santorum: It’s a gay term for something you don’t want to know anything about.
Moderator: Let me remind you that the subject is job destruction.
Perry: As governor, I’ve executed more Americans than any other governor of the state of Texas. That ought to count for something.
Santorum: Not if you keep letting more wetbacks cross over into the country. And employing them to tidy-up your mansion.
Perry: I don’t have a mansion. It’s government property. I don’t even have a mortgage—or have I accepted billions of dollars from Fannie and Freddie—whoever the heck they are.
Gingrich: I worked for all those billions. I told them about Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and George Washington. And, in my humble opinion, we’re veering from the topic.
Perry: What’s veering?
Gingrich: Stop interrupting. We’re talking about all those wetbacks you’ve let into the country.
Santorum: We have to deny them jobs. No jobs, no school for their children, nothing. Then they’ll understand that it’s time to go back home. Once we expel all the wetbacks, they’ll be plenty of jobs for good Christian Americans. And if you do the same thing for gays—remove them for the work force—there’ll be even more. Jobs.
Paul: That won’t work. They’re people. Better to stop building bridges, highways, railroads. That’ll save so much money that there’ll be no federal debt.
Romney: Won’t work. We’re already doing that. As a businessman I have a plan that can grow the economy beginning the day I become President.
Paul: Business, business, business. That’s the bane of your—
Gingrich: Bain Capital.
Romney: I can grow the economy.
Gingrich: I can cut government fat.
Paul: I can eliminate the government.
Santorum: I can eliminate abortion.
Perry: I can, too—but I just don’t remember what I can.
Gingrich [Turning to Romney]: Release your tax returns, you crypto cult figure.
Santorum: My conservatism is bigger than yours.
Perry: I’ll piss on your body if you become President. Just give me a gun.
Paul: I knew Teddy Roosevelt, and you’re no hunter, Governor…
Santorum: Marriage is not a union between a man and his horse. God told me so.
Romney: Let the unemployed start their own businesses.
Perry: Elect me, and I’ll attack Iran. Or any other country you want.
Gingrich: Elect me, and I’ll close down the country.
Moderator: Boys, your time is up.
Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C.