New Yorkers who tuned in for Monday night's gubernatorial debate found a "Saturday Night Live" sketch instead.
Thanks to an idiotic format that forced Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Carl Paladino to share the stage - and equal time - with five fringe candidates, what should have been a serious discussion of the future of the state devolved into 90 minutes of bad comedy.
Rather than Will Ferrell as George W. Bush, this televised farce featured a guy wearing black gloves and a Hogwarts beard who kept saying, "Rent is too damn high" in answer to every question.
It also had convicted madam Kristin Davis of the Anti-Prohibition Party, who pointed out that she alone, of all the candidates on stage, had the requisite skills to manage the "whores" in the Legislature.
And former Black Panther Charles Barron, who actually chided the hosts for not including a Latino, an Asian and an "indigenous" person on the panel of questioners.
Then there was Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, who literally promised a government job to each and every unemployed person in the state. Which, at last count, would mean asking taxpayers to pay salaries and benefits for more than 800,000 people.
Assuming there were any taxpayers left, that is.
In this crowd, Libertarian Party hopeful Warren Redlich - with his nerdy statistics about the 110,000 state bureaucrats earning more than $100,000 - sounded downright reasonable.
If only he hadn't cited the newspaper route he had as a kid as a qualification for the most important job in the state.
Cuomo won easily, but not because of any particular rhetorical skill on his part.
It's no great trick to look like chief executive material when you're sitting next Jimmy McMillan of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, who - in addition to repeating his party name - had this to say about the state's $8 billion deficit: "It's like a cancer. It will heal itself."
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