Donald Trump has responded to falling poll numbers in Iowa by insulting Iowans, Bobby Jindal has reminded voters that he exists by refusing to participate in the second-tier GOP debate, Ben Carson can’t shut up about Nazis, and Jeb Bush has done the political equivalent of sticking his thumb up his butt and strumming his lips like a cartoon cat with a head injury. Do any of these guys want to actually win? My half-baked theory: no. None of them actually want to win. And this entire election makes a lot more sense if you think of it like a political sequel for The Producers.

Mel Brooks’s 1967 farce-musical tells the story of a pair of down-on-their-luck men who realize that they can make more money producing a musical that’s a flop than they can producing one that succeeds. Money raised by backers, reason Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom (as played by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder), will make them rich, and if the show closes after only a night, they get to keep all of the money themselves rather than paying investors their share of profits. To maximize its offensiveness, they hire a Nazi to write it, the worst director on Broadway to direct it, and an semi-lucid man to star in it. Much to their horror, Springtime for Hitler is a smash hit.

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Attempting an identical scheme with the presidency of the United States sounds like something so cynical that it’s unfathomable that a single man would attempt it, much less more than a dozen men (and one woman). But, in examining the bumbling of each of the candidates for the GOP nomination for President, it’s hard to imagine that anything but a mass dive is happening. How else could this many people with this many years of experience be so bad at doing the one thing that they’re supposed to be good at doing? It’s like watching a full lineup of major league baseball players strike out at tee-ball. It’s like watching Ronda Rousey lose a fight to a member of One Direction.

Jeb Bush, preordained moderate and reasonable choice for establishment Republican voters, is running the campaign of a man who cannot believe he has to suffer the indignity of the primaries and is responding to his frustration by throwing a tantrum. Don’t we know who his father is?! Fine, fuck it: Super Girl is hot. Psych majors work at Chik-fil-A. Shootings count among “stuff” that happens. Let’s fight with Donald Trump on Twitter. Why not. If I can’t jump the line I’ll stand here lighting my farts on fire until you guys nominate someone else.

Ben Carson has suspended public campaign events in the weeks leading up to this Wednesday’s debate in order to promote his book (a purpose the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin seems to believe was the point of Carson’s campaign all along; a very Brooks-ian theory indeed). Carson took time away from his his campaign for Bestseller-In-Chief on Sunday to sit down with NBC’s Chuck Todd, who pointed out that Carson loves to bring up Nazis in expressly non-Nazi contexts. Carson responded that it’s the media’s fault, and that Jews love him, Jews absolutely love him. Same.

Chris Christie is clearly in it for the fleeces.

Ted Cruz has spent way too much time around people who keep telling Ted Cruz that he is funny, and the effect is that Ted Cruz seems to think America is a Christian Bible Camp, and we are all Saved lanyard-wearing 13-year-olds charmed by Simpsons impressions.

My current working theory on Donald Trump is that he wasn’t hugged enough as a child and thus satiated his pathological need for attention the only way a man with nearly unlimited resources can: by running for President. In that way, running for President is to the incredibly wealthy and Republican what running a marathon is to being a childless person in your late twenties: you’re probably not going to win, and you’re pretty sure a Kenyan won the last one.

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Carly Fiorina was a terrible CEO, and even worse Senate candidate, and is running for President so somebody can yell about Hillary Clinton without looking sexist. Also: po$t-election $peaking fee$.

Mike Huckabee does not want to be President. Bobby Jindal wants a revenue stream for himself after Louisiana’s term limits kick him out of the governor’s mansion after this month’s elections. John Kasich is auditioning to be the token conservative talking head on a moderate-to-liberal political talk show. Rand Paul would rather his wacky ideas remain perpetually right in theory than proven wrong in practice, and I’m starting to think that Rick Santorum is just bored.

That leaves us with Marco Rubio, a man who, according to reports, hates his job in the Senate so much that he’s itching for a way out. If he needs a backup for his crappy 10-to-3, there’s always the Presidency.

All together now:

We’re marching to a faster pace,
Oh, shit, someone’s got to run this race.


Contact the author at erin@jezebel.com.

Images via Getty/Embassy Pictures