Today is that great quadrennial celebration in American democracy: The eve of the day that our political system can completely stop caring about Iowa for another few years, aside from delivering the annual Christmas card of billions of dollars in useless farm subsidies. The Iowa caucuses, however, must be dealt with first, as Republican caucus-goers prepare to crown either Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, or Ron Paul as their new Harvest King tonight. How did things go so wrong? Let's go back and relive the crucial moments of this Iowa campaign season, together, by looking at some funny pictures and making dumb jokes.

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Everyone thought early on that Mike Huckabee, the ludicrous ex-governor of Arkansas who rode his 2008 Iowa victory all the way to an unwatchable Saturday night gig on cable television, would run again and trounce his opponents. Huckabee declined to run, though, announcing his decision in May at the end of his Saturday night show, the viewing of which was the lowest point of this writer's life.

Newt Gingrich finally got around to campaigning alone in Iowa after he went on a cruise with his wife and then lost all of his campaign staff. Here he is on the Fourth of July, disgracing the nation with every footstep. But he would return.

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In 2011, humans for a period cared about a former half-term governor of Alaska named Sarah Palin, and whether she could win Iowa because she "relates" to Rurals. A terrible documentary about Palin was released in Iowa early last summer, for scouting purposes.

All the candidates immediately wanted endorsements from the state's top politicos, to enshroud their candidacies early with illusions of gravitas and seriousness. Among the "big catches" was Iowa's senior United States Senator, Chuck Grassley; but he was too preoccupied with pressing issues on Twitter to ever bother making an endorsement.

Similarly coveted was the endorsement of a vulgar self-promoting hustler named Bob Vander Plaats, who quickly adopted the long-con role of Crucial Iowa Evangelical Leader-Gatekeeper Who You Can't Ignore. His organization asked all of the candidates to sign a comical document called "The Marriage Vow," which naturally asked the candidates to balance the federal budget on the backs of spending cuts to the poor and other things. It also noted that black people were better off under slavery, within like the first few paragraphs, for no reason.

And soon enough came August and the Iowa State Fair, where the candidates pretend to be poor people! Mitt Romney had seen better days.

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Texas' longtime governor joined the race around Fair time. Here he is stuffing his face with cock.

[Image via AP]

The Fair ended with the "critical" "Ames Straw Poll." The candidates all threw fancy parties as a means of bribing — just straight-up bribing — potential supporters. Rick Santorum, for example, held the whitest event in human history.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the race after losing the straw poll, due to a total lack of funds and support. Pawlenty had always been billed as one of the "serious candidates" to "watch for in 2012." What happened? Well, he was a pussy.

The Sarah Palin person we mentioned earlier, she showed up at the state fair in children's clothes and maybe pet an animal and then left. Several hundred months of teasing later, she would announce her decision not to run, but then Steve Jobs died an hour after her announcement and everyone forgot about her pretty much forever.

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And who could forget the brief, insurgent candidacy of Michigan Rep. Thaddeus "Thad" McCotter?

In the end it was Michele Bachmann who won the Ames Straw Poll. Everything was coming up Michele! She celebrated her victory by dancing with her husband Marcus, a possible homosexual about whom people made many bad jokes.

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Michele Bachmann would quickly fall to last place in the polls.

Rick Perry tumbled from his spot atop the polls after Iowa voters noticed he was 100% incompetent. He now lives out of his van, desperately trying to land small-venue gigs on the Internet joke circuit wherever he can get 'em.

And what of the Democrats? President Obama had a caucus challenger, too! He was anti-abortion nutcase Randall Terry, seen here mumbling for cash in the forest.

Oh Jesus, Herman Cain. He was the frontrunner in Iowa for a while, no one ever knew why, especially considering he never visited the state. Instead he would travel to such places as a Milwaukee newspaper editorial board meeting to deliver eloquent critiques of the administration's actions in Libya. He quickly dropped out of the race because of penis penis penispenispenis.

Ugh, let's just skip December.

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And now here we are! RealClearPolitics made a thorough graph of poll movements over time.

TPM made a prettier graph of poll movements over time.

Gawker simply made the best graph of of poll movements over time.

Kisses goodbye, Iowa!

[Image via AP]