'Tis the season of trumpeting self-importance. Of buffoonery and blather. Of ferocious baby possums gnawing at each other’s ankles. The race for president is upon us. It’s your ticket to bad community theater performed by people you wouldn’t leave alone with your silverware or your children. But we need your help, if only to keep Ted Cruz a safe distance from any form of nuclear weaponry. Presenting a voter’s guide for people who hate politics. It’s ranked by likelihood of winning, so you can skip the biggest weirdos if it all becomes too painful:
Bio: Secretary of state, U.S. senator from New York, victim of stalking by the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
Character she plays on TV: Whomever her overnight polling says she should be.
Hillary distilled: The quintessential corporate Democrat. Her biggest donors read like the starting lineup for the Apostles of Satan softball team, including JP Morgan, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley. Only jumps in on big issues — the Iraq War, gay marriage, the Keystone pipeline — after the waters are perfectly still. Says she would have showed up earlier if she could have found her swimsuit. Can occasionally pass for a firebrand populist, but must then give a $200,000 speech to Goldman Sachs execs to regain her equilibrium.
Upside: Smart, capable, and the least likely to bomb Syracuse by mistaking it for Syria.
Presidential prediction: Obama Ultra Lite — "the same full-flavored timidity, but with only half the conviction!" Spends six years doing as little as possible, then tries to help The People only when there's nothing personal at risk.
2. Marco Rubio
Bio: Speaker of the Florida House, U.S. senator, science museum exhibit of rare Latino Republican.
Character he plays on TV: The president in a Lifetime movie about good-looking vampires who wrestle with the emotional conflicts of young romance and finding fresh blood.
Rubio distilled: Wears fishnet stockings and a push-up bra whenever he meets with NRA lobbyists. Believes tax cuts can fix everything from your daughter's acne to an Adam Sandler movie. Opposes equal pay for women. Wants you to know he's really, really against abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. Will eagerly punch an intern in the uterus on national television to demonstrate his control over the female reproductive system.
Upside: Unique Republican who doesn't appear to need a mental health intervention.
Presidential prediction: Accidentally mumbles three words in Spanish during a photo-op at an El Paso elementary school. House Republicans launch impeachment hearings, demanding Rubio be burned at the stake. Settle for taking away his hair gel and refusing to sit by him at lunch.
3. Bernie Sanders
Bio: Congressman and senator from Vermont, arch-nemesis of Wall Street.
Character he plays on TV: Your pissed-off grandpa — if he read more and Grandma convinced him that the TV was broken so he couldn't watch Fox & Friends.
Distilling Bernie: Admits to being a "democratic socialist," which most Americans think is a disease you get from toilet seats. Favors paid family leave, raising the minimum wage to $15, and breaking up the big banks before they devour us like chum appetizers at a shark convention. Still, insiders say he doesn't have the ground forces to win, since getting elected in Vermont is like being the senator of a hardware store.
Upside: The only candidate who won't trade his mother for a golf outing with hedge fund managers.
Presidential prediction: Overthrown in a coup by JP Morgan, which invokes a maximum wage of $2.99 a day for all non-executives. Bernie flees to Canada to plot counteroffensive, then launches American invasion. U.S. soldiers capitulate, saying they're busy pooling their money to rent a one-bedroom apartment in east St. Paul. Canada annexes America. Quality of doughnuts rises 48 percent. Everyone lives happily ever after.
4. Jeb Bush
R-Yacht Club Veranda
Bio: Old Connecticut money, governor of Florida, Lehman Brothers executive.
Character he plays on TV: Impatient rich guy who knows the GOP always nominates the guy with the most cash, so he just wants to get this stupid primary over with.
Jeb distilled: Matches the lingering stench of his brother with all the dynamism of Donnie Wahlberg performing Othello. Climate change denier, though admits "I'm not a scientist." Also denies the existence of vegetables because "I'm not a carrot." Says even his Mexican wife wants a fence along the border, since they already dock airfare from their gardener's paychecks.
Upside: Has enough cash to buy every voter an AK-47 and a carton of Pall Malls if they'll just let him be president.
Presidential prediction: Abolishes Obamacare. Replaces it with "free market system" that consists of an unlicensed doctor operating out of an abandoned grain elevator in Kearney, Nebraska. Then goes golfing.
5. John Kasich
R-Executive Dining Room
Bio: Congressman, governor of Ohio, Lehman Brothers executive, Fox News host.
Character he plays on TV: Who Scott Walker wants to be when he grows up.
Kasich distilled: Took $432,000 bonus from Lehman Brothers as it was going bankrupt, but thinks the economic collapse was caused by the guy who mows the park. Tried to crush unions in Ohio, only to be repelled by referendum. Against the separation of church and state, so long as nobody tells the Muslims. Wants English to be our official language. Have you ever tried ordering a McMuffin in Portuguese? Expanded Medicaid in Ohio. To conservatives, that's worse than throwing bread crust at a starving Ethiopian.
Upside: Sufficiently mean for the GOP, but occasional bouts of empathy leave some to wonder if he drives a Subaru Forester when no one's watching.
Presidential prediction: Under harsh interrogation at nomination hearings, his appointment for secretary of the interior admits to practicing an "openly feminist lifestyle." Republicans counter by burning down national parks. A compromise is reached when Kasich agrees to make the feminist work out of a pup tent behind his garage and to pave national forests for use as airport shuttle parking.
6. Ben Carson
Bio: Famed neurosurgeon, turned talk radio sweetheart, turned guy who debates the theory of evolution with birch trees.
Character he plays on TV: Sarah Palin 2.0.
Carson distilled: Easily the most charming, personable candidate in the race. Until he opens his mouth. Equates Obamacare to slavery, says prison makes you gay, and believes the Jews could have defeated Hitler if they'd only kept their squirrel rifles and convinced him to shoot the gypsies instead. Moron talk has him rocketing up the polls. Still, the GOP nominating a black guy is as likely as Hezbollah tapping Julie Saperstein to chair its Spring Cotillion planning committee.
Upside: Won't be able to bomb anyone if he can't figure out the White House phone system.
Presidential scenario: Offers complimentary lobotomies to the Freedom Caucus. Newfound intellectual firepower allows House to pass a resolution declaring that "Ghosts are scary." Then everyone goes back to complaining about the chocolate milk in the Capitol lunchroom.
7. Donald Trump
R-Megalomania Therapy Group
Bio: Heir to real estate empire, reality TV host, Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter narcissist freestyle.
Character he plays on TV: Final challenge on a competitive hairdressing show, where contestants must figure out what to do with that orange varmint attached to his head.
The Donald distilled: Built early lead in polls by talking like a drunk guy at the Tampa airport. Unfortunately, more than half of Republican primary voters still think Obama's a Muslim and that global warming is a hoax. Which means leading the GOP primary is akin to being voted homecoming king of a white supremacist compound in Idaho.
Upside: Would spare us his inauguration speech because he's too busy having a catfight with some guy named Jason on Twitter.
Presidential scenario: Becomes the first president to be knocked out by a foreign head of state after he calls Angela Merkel "fat broad" at a G7 meeting. Spends the rest of his presidency trying to convince the American public that "Merkel just got off a lucky punch," and that he couldn't defend himself because he did too many bench presses that morning.
R-Yacht Club Waiting List
Bio: Failed CEO of Hewlett-Packard, failed U.S. Senate candidate, but still really rich. Isn't this a great country?
Character she plays on TV: Tough-minded businesswoman whose razor wit can carve a statue of Reagan from the ice cubes in a gin and tonic.
Carly distilled: Widely considered the worst tech CEO in American history. Oversaw 30,000 layoffs during her six years running Hewlett-Packard. Stock rose 10 percent on the day she was fired. Still managed to earn $100 million for totally sucking, including $21 million to just go away. Likes to fondly regale grandchildren with bedtime stories about all the lives she ruined. Hobbies include needlepoint and making stuff up about Planned Parenthood.
Upside: Hugely popular among terrorist sleeper cells, since it's totally hard to make a fertilizer bomb with a third-grade madrassa education, and Fiorina can ruin the country without them.
Presidential prediction: Crashes economy on her first day in office. Demands a $70 million performance bonus.
9. Ted Cruz
Bio: U.S. senator from Texas, craven obstructionist, voted most likely to shiv his BFF by his high school class.
Character he plays on TV: Wicked stepfather of the Tea Party movement. Insatiable thirst for media coverage has forced 36 television cameras to take out restraining orders against him.
Cruz distilled: Most hated man in politics, even by his own party. Wife must pay neighbors to attend their Fourth of July barbecue. Dogs feel a need to shower after he pets them. Spent $122,000 buying copies of his own book to artificially bump it up the bestseller list. Believes the U.N. is trying to abolish golf courses. (Really. You can look it up.) If limelight ever fades, plans to front a Nickelback tribute band.
Upside: Might make a better president than Lindsay Lohan.
Presidential scenario: During his first month in office, tramples to death 74 innocents who imprudently stood between him and a microphone. Arrested on morals charges after being caught making out with a photo of himself in an Alabama men's room. Falls into a deep funk and overdoses on Botox. Last seen yelling about the inheritance tax on a community-access channel in Lubbock.10. Chris Christie
Bio: U.S. attorney, governor of New Jersey, high draft pick in competitive hot dog eating fantasy leagues.
Character he plays on TV: Traditional moderate desperately trying to sound dumb enough to appeal to evangelicals.
Christie distilled: Believes in climate change and once hugged Obama, meaning he could be the anti-Christ or a relative of Bill Maher. Interests include yelling at school teachers, smiting his enemies, and taunting special needs children. Tries to win over Southern Bloc by drooling at gun expos and issuing policy papers in coloring book form. Purposefully misspells his name to convince Tea Party that he's not a RINO.
Upside: Could win if previous nine candidates contract Ebola.
Presidential prediction: Shuts down the Atlanta airport for "maintenance" when Georgia state auditor doesn't send a Christmas card. Reign comes to a tragic end when he drowns while swimming laps in a plate of fettucine.11. Rand Paul
Bio: Eye doctor, U.S. senator from Kentucky, son of famous libertarian kook Ron Paul.
Character he plays on TV: That weird guy at the end of the bar who sounds kind of interesting if you don't listen too closely and he's buying.
Rand distilled: Possibly bipolar. Wants to decriminalize marijuana, cut corporate welfare, and quit with the grandstanding tough talk in foreign policy. Also wants to eliminate foreign aid, bar the regulation of greenhouse gases, and tell squirrels that if they want a clean habitat, they should buy their own damn property and quit mooching off the rest of us.
Upside: "No, wait. I'll buy another round of shots if you just let me finish."
Presidential prediction: Abolishes government, ordering schools to be funded by the spare change trays at SuperAmerica. Invokes Second Amendment to legalize the personal use of surface-to-air missiles. Claims the subsequent carnage of airline attacks would stop if more people just carried surface-to-air missiles.
12. Martin O'Malley
Bio: Mayor of Baltimore, governor of Maryland, inspiration for Tommy Carcetti on The Wire.
Character he plays on TV: Comically generic politician. So wooden he showers with Thompson's Water Seal.
O'Malley distilled: Staunchest proponent of gun control in the race. Unfortunately, he's polling at just one percent because people think he's a bartender at Shenanigan's in Rosemount. Appears to have been manufactured by using spare parts from Al Gore advisors. Walgreens sells a bottled version of O'Malley as a sleep aid for teething infants.
Upside: We finally get a candidate who openly favors gun control.
Presidential prediction: His children are kidnapped by the NRA, which threatens to make them watch the complete Tom Selleck catalog if he doesn't go back to Shenanigan's. Spends the rest of his life pouring perfect Guinnesses and telling sad stories about what could have been.13. Bobby Jindal
R-The Justin Bieber of Politics
Bio: Congressman and governor of Louisiana, suspected foreigner.
Character he plays on TV: The kind of politician you'd buy from a close-out bin at Wal-Mart.
Jindal distilled: After disastrous 2012 election, says Republicans have to "stop being the stupid party." Starts using three-syllable words. Supporters simmer, claiming he's gone "East Coast elite." Jindal does about-face, begins yammering about Christian persecution and Sharia law. Drives Louisiana to $1.6 billion deficit to prove his conservative bona fides.
Upside: His latest state budget is "almost a Ponzi scheme," says his own lieutenant governor. Makes him the favorite to chair the Federal Reserve in the Trump administration.
Presidential prediction: Announces the Secession of Southern States and declares himself Baptist Ayatollah. Immediately deposed for crimes of illegal pigmentation. Reassigned to fetching Bud Light and pork rinds for Confederacy accounting staff.14. Lindsey Graham
R-The Goober John McCain
Bio: Lawyer, U.S. senator from South Carolina, antique replica of 1950s war hawk.
Character he plays on TV: Your gay uncle Ed who's reluctant to come out of the closet. Compensates by demanding boots on the ground every time a door slams in the Middle East.
Graham distilled: Former Air Force reservist who became a colonel despite rarely showing up for work. Fancies himself as a "battle-tested leader" of men after serving in the trenches of an Air Force base law school in Alabama. Successfully pushed a bipartisan resolution to have Congress stomp its feet and talk shit about Iran from a safe distance. Would give it all up for just one night with Zack from Saved by the Bell.
Upside: Overwhelmingly popular among voters who own Halliburton stock.
Presidential prediction: Locks himself in his bedroom for a week after not getting invited to Vladimir Putin's sleepover. Aides explain that he was so looking forward to the bare-chested horse riding. Emerges refreshed after listening to "Shake It Off" on endless loop. Begins launching new wars at 15-minute intervals, starting with, but not limited to: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia ....
15. Mike Huckabee
R-Mean Jesus' Protestant Emissary on Earth
Bio: Governor of Arkansas, Baptist preacher, Fox News host, Pontius Pilate Fan Club president.
Character her plays on TV: Nothing to see here, people. Only running to keep his name recognition afloat so his speaking fees don't slide.
Huckabee distilled: Thinks AIDS is a plague, that gay marriage has criminalized Christianity, and that women should control their libidos. Wants hard rockers like Céline Dion regulated as a Schedule 1 Narcotic. Plans to hand over U.S. science curriculum to a guy from his Bible study group who collects lizards.
Upside: Irritates God so much that he incites the Second Coming. Jesus returns to Earth, holds a brief press conference disavowing Huckabee, then promptly goes back to Heaven with a disgusted look on his face. Doesn't even stay for lunch.
Presidential prediction: Declares U.S. a Christian Caliphate. Cancels Super Bowl to perform live exorcism on Bill Belichick. Ratings tumble when nobody watches Jonas Brothers exorcism in second episode. Caliphate is cancelled and replaced by reruns of 2 Broke Girls.
16. Rick Santorum
Bio: Lawyer, U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, last rampart of defense in the War on Christmas.
Character her plays on TV: A creepy Mr. Rogers. Parents make their kids skip his house on Halloween just to be safe.
Santorum distilled: Keeps running for president because he can't get an interview at Home Depot. Wants to cut the corporate tax to zero, arguing that it will finally make them tired of hogging all the money. Believes in the right to discriminate against gays for religious purposes because loving thy neighbor is a gateway to bestiality. Also thinks gay sex is akin to incest and bigamy, that soldiers should be punished for queerness, and that sexual orientation should not be a factor in hate crimes.
Upside: All four of his supporters dismiss his obsession with homosexuality as just a healthy enthusiasm for Old Testament vengeance.
Presidential prediction: Spends four years downloading videos from Bonertube.com. Doesn't seek re-election because Oval Office internet connection is too slow.