The Republican candidates have all gathered in Ames, Iowa tonight for a terrifying Fox News debate. Did they really need to do this on a night with so many wonderful NFL preseason games? Lord, do they ever hate America. Anyway, what will they babble about, and who will win, and what else? Let's explore!

  • Will Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty maul each other? Christ, let's hope. Tim Pawlenty needs a top one or two finish in the Ames Straw Poll to survive, so he'd help himself by not looking like such a pussy this time around. Michele Bachmann merely needs another solid debate performance to keep herself on track as the (probable) Iowa frontrunner. So expect him to be gently condescending to her, about how she's not a serious person, and for her to be like "at least I didn't love global warming a few years ago," and then for Tim Pawlenty to run off the stage for a "ice hockey game" in the hayfields.
  • Mitt Romney doesn't have to do anything. Romney isn't even participating in the Ames Straw Poll, but is in town for kicks anyway. Meaning, if the other non-overall-frontrunners start taking shots at him, he'll quietly accept them without daring to strike back aggressively and risk saying something abnormally "weird" that hurts his national standing. Alas, it will be a Modest Mittens tonight. Damn him and his long view strategy!
  • Isn't it insane that Newt Gingrich will be there? Yeah, he's still "running for president," technically! What kind of lunatic rant will he go on to get anyone's attention? Something about postcolonial theory and the space program and how they manifest themselves in Labor Department policies via an intra-governmental borrowing back channel, let's say, all explained through the side of his mouth while he blows his elephant mascot, Ellis.
  • There will be a severe lack of Rick Perry on stage. The Texas Governor is too busy semi-announcing his bid to Mark Halperin in some dank closet to bother showing up for this debate, which is a shame. Meanwhile, "Thaddeus McCotter" won't participate either, because no one gives a shit about him, and neither will The Gay, who is too gay.

It is possible, but not likely, that anything else will happen.

[Image via AP]