Everything You Need to Know to Steel Your Fragile Soul for Tonight’s Final Presidential Debate


Greetings, and welcome to the third and final “presidential debate.” Grab your horse tranquilizers and clear the area  of weapons — this is the last one of these fucking things we ever have to watch.*

The Format

Unlike the last debate, in which the candidates were free to stalk one another around the stage like heavily starched jungle cats, tonight’s debate will feature podiums. What will Donald Trump do with his podium? Will he crouch on top of it like a pigeon? Will he attempt to crawl under it and burrow his way to the nearby Trump International Hotel? Will he duck behind it, peeking out once every forty or fifty seconds to cock his index fingers at Hillary and say “pow pow”?

Hillary will stand behind her podium like a poised adult, wondering how thirty years of focus, diligence, and preparation have led her to debate a greased pig instead of a human.

During the first debate, Hillary was given a larger podium in an attempt to lessen the visual disparity between her and Trump, who is nearly a foot taller than she is. It’s unclear whether that will be the case tonight. Will the podiums be made of wood, or steel or possums? Will both candidates ride onto the stage on wargs? The first rule of Election 2016 is there are no rules.

The Location

Tonight’s debate will be hosted in beauteous Las Vegas, where Trump (as he will no doubt repeatedly remind viewers) has property. He’s less likely to talk about what’s going on outside the convention hall, where a line of taco trucks organized by the Culinary Union will be parked in protest, both of Trump’s fatuous “wall plan” as well as his refusal to negotiate with Trump International Hotel employees after they voted to unionize in December. Pow pow!

If Trump has one skill, it’s his ability to sniff out perceived disadvantages like a hog rooting for truffles. He’ll have his work cut out for him in Vegas, where fellow mush-faced billionaire Sheldon Adelson literally bought the city’s largest paper in order to control its coverage of the gaming industry. (It should nearly go without saying that Adelson is a Trump supporter.) Las Vegas is also littered with precisely the sort of disenfranchised Americans to whom Trump appeals, still reeling as they are from the catastrophic effects of the housing crisis. Trump has as close as he’ll ever get to a hometown advantage, which leads me to this next point…

The Moderator

It has become Trump’s late-night habit to prowl his gilded corridors, phone clenched in tiny fist, firing off tweets about how Big Media has rigged the election against him. Tonight’s debate will be moderated by a friendlyish face, Chris Wallace of Fox News. Wallace has expressed that he intends to recline while the candidates spar, meaning it will largely resemble the first debate, in which Lester Holt was essentially mute for the majority of the bloody proceedings.

“If people say, ‘It was a great debate and I don’t remember you being there,’ I will have done my job,” said Wallace. When Trump sidles up to Hillary and takes a deep sniff of her neck, Wallace will put his hands over his eyes. When Trump pulls out a .44 Magnum and starts rubbing it over his crotch, Wallace will politely turn his chair around, to give him privacy. When Trump plunges naked into a kiddie pool filled with yogurt and rolls around while an army of bikini-clad Ivanka clones shoot Roman candles into the ceiling, Wallace will look into the camera and wordlessly wiggle his eyebrows. Pundits will later report that Wallace did fine.

By the way, following disgraced Fox News boss Roger Ailes’s abrupt departure from the network, Wallace praised him as a mentor and friend. According to Media Matters, Ailes is advising both the Trump campaign AND Wallace’s boss, Rupert Murdoch. How will Trump possibly justify his inevitable shitting of the bed with an arrangement so favorable? We’ll see!

The Issues

With Wallace out taking bong rips in the stairwell, it will be up to the armed masses to ensure that the proceedings remain ratings-friendly. Remember That Guy, Not Ken Bone, The Other One who dared to ask that civility question? At the risk of THAT happening again, every audience member will be handed exactly one single-shot flare gun, for use as they see fit.

The issues, at least in theory, will be:

  • Debt and entitlements
  • Immigration
  • Economy
  • Supreme Court
  • Foreign hot spots
  • Fitness to be president

Fox notes that “topics may be altered depending on news events leading up to the event.” Plenty of people have made reference to the passel of incriminating videos still out there. If anyone’s planning to leak that one of Trump fucking a two-tiered cake topped with a fondant swastika, well, now would sure be a good time to let ‘er out. My DMs are open.

But What Will This Do to Trump’s Brand, Asks the New York Times?

Many of his business ventures depend on the value of his personal brand, and at some point, he may feel pressure — from family members and business partners — to protect his investments by tempering his machine-gunner’s instincts.

There’s been no evidence of such restraint from Mr. Trump, however, and a do-or-die debate may be an unlikely moment for him to shift in that direction.

Translation: Trump could split Hillary open onstage with a butterknife, use her still-beating heart as a Christmas tree topper and fashion her skin into a Jet Ski seat — all within the ninety-minute commercial-free airtime — and still lose not a single voter/fan.


* Haha see you in four years, sucker.

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