Send in 
the clowns

Las Vegas is one of my favorite places, but there’s a tinge of sadness on the Strip these days.

It’s not the lack of crowds or dearth of attractions. The streets, shows, restaurants and casinos are packed as always, from sun-up to sun-up. No, what’s made the people of Las Vegas so blue is the knowledge that, no matter how much fun they offer, they simply can’t compete with the biggest show in town: the 2012 Republican presidential primary, playing across America every day. It’s so hilarious they should charge admission.


First, there are so many candidates squeezed onto such a small stage they can’t help but trip all over themselves. The message of so-called “serious” candidates — Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman — keeps getting buried by the rants of “second-tier” candidates Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich. Who, in turn, have to compete for attention with three “impossible” players: Herman Cain, Buddy Roemer and Gary Johnson. Then along comes Tea Party Queen Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannKlobuchar urges CNN town hall audience: 'That's when you guys are supposed to cheer, OK?' Michele Bachmann praises Trump: Americans will 'never see a more godly, biblical president' Will Biden lead a 'return to normalcy' in 2020? MORE and outshines them all.

Still can’t decide? Don’t fret. There are at least five more candidates waiting in the wings, dying to take center stage: Rick Perry, Rudy Giuliani, John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDemocrats press for action on election security Prospects for Trump gun deal grow dimmer Trump, lawmakers consider app that would conduct background checks: report MORE, George Pataki and the 800-pound Mother Grizzly herself, Sarah Palin. Some Republicans are so desperate over the cast of characters to choose from so far that they’ve actually approached John McCainJohn Sidney McCainArizona Democratic Party will hold vote to censure Sinema The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Biden's debate performance renews questions of health MORE about running again.

Once the show starts, the fun is watching them implode, one by one. Pawlenty fizzled fast, showing he didn’t have the guts to take on Romney while standing right next to him. Romney himself provided one of the funniest moments so far: searching for a buck in his wallet, but coming up with only a stack of hundred-dollar bills. And Bachmann blew her Tea Party cover when it was revealed she’s a closet socialist, having sought $250,000 in federal funds for her family farm and helped engineer over $100 million in federal subsidies to Minnesota hog farmers.

Huntsman was supposed to save the day, but he fell flat on his face on day one by forgetting what city he was in, while his staff — who still didn’t know how to spell his first name — directed reporters to a plane bound for Saudi Arabia, not New Hampshire. Even so, Huntsman’s debut was not as embarrassing as that of Gingrich, who’s still trying to explain why he and his wife needed a $500,000 revolving account with Tiffany’s — in addition to a $1 million line of credit.

See what I mean? It’s a lot more fun than Vegas — and it’s only getting started. H.L. Mencken once wrote: “A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.” Poor Mencken died too soon. He should have seen the Republican primary of 2012.

Press is host of the nationally syndicated “Bill Press Show.”