American lunatics will be hogging your TV screen next week.
For political watchers, the good times are back with the opening of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, starting Monday.
Sure, Canadian elections are entertaining (and there is an election on right now in Quebec) but there's nothing in all of the world like a U.S. presidential election.
For starters, it embodies everything bad about our southern neighbours.
Two political parties with long and sordid histories appoint the best man (and it's always a man) they think they can find in their midst and plow hundreds of millions of dollars into getting that man elected.
The Republican National Convention will be the official unveiling of presidential candidate Mitt Romney to the American electorate, despite the fact ads have been running across all media for months now. The most closely watched speeches (and good lord, there will be speeches - all of them united in love of God and country, and hatred for the evil Barack Obama) of the week will be vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Wednesday night, followed by Romney on Thursday.
Their primetime speeches will be carried by the U.S. networks and it will be Ryan and Romney's greatest chance between now and election day on Tuesday, Nov. 6 to speak directly to American voters about why they deserve to occupy the White House for four years.
Romney isn't exactly heading into the convention on a high. Thanks to Todd Akin, a Republican senate candidate from Missouri who made international headlines with his remarks that women who are victims of legitimate rape rarely get pregnant, Romney is heading down to Tampa trying to unify the party.
A far-too-large and far-too-loud segment of the Republican Party continue to support Akin because of his stand on abortion. While Romney continues to stress he is anti-abortion, he is in favour of it in the cases of rape and incest. Shockingly, Neanderthals like Akin and Ryan continue to argue that the baby shouldn't be punished for the crime, a nice way of saying a woman has no reproductive control over her body and must carry her fetus to term, regardless of the circumstances that led to her pregnancy or the risk that pregnancy could pose to her health.
That stance, and so many others now steadfastly held by devout Republicans, is fuelled by an evangelical belief in Christianity. Bizarrely, evangelical Christians are not represented on this year's Republican ticket since Romney is a Mormon, the first Mormon to ever be the presidential nominee for either major party, and Ryan is a Catholic.
Evangelicals are hardly fond of Mormons and Catholics, meaning that Romney's rallying cry to get these people to give him their money and their vote will not be "I'd be a great president because I'm just like you," it will be "I'd be a better president than the other guy." Any student of politics knows that's not exactly a recipe for victory when you have to paint yourself as the lesser of two evils.
It should be so easy to take Barack Obama down. The Democratic president's first term has been a disappointment for his supporters, never mind the people who can't stand him and think he isn't even an American citizen. Trying to bring in universal health care was a disaster. The economy has been slow to recover since the 2008 meltdown.
Yet the Republican Party continues to rip itself apart over moral issues.
Republicans are fighting with each other over whether they're against abortion or really against abortion and against same-sex marriage (it's morally wrong but it's like owning a gun, it's up to the individual) or really against it (gays shouldn't be allowed to do anything at all that implies the state and society condones their wicked desires).
Romney must look north of the border enviously at Stephen Harper, who has done an excellent job at keeping the most radical Conservatives on the sidelines.
The Republican Party, meanwhile, has been hijacked by its fringe and those crazy folks will be on full display next week.
Then Romney will take to the stage Thursday night and try to tell Americans and U.S. watchers around the world that Republicans aren't scary.
Good luck with that.
-- Managing Editor Neil Godbout