The knock on American politics is that we don't have a legitimate third party. Which isn't to say the Greens and Libertarians don't have some great ideas; it's just that the most they can hope for is to peel votes from the respective Big Two party with similar ideologies. But sometimes you want to throw your vote away, and you want to do it in an attention-grabbing manner. Here are three candidates who didn't win their races, but made a loud statement that the two guys ahead of them are awful.

Hank the Cat never had much of a chance. For one, he's 10 years old, and senators have to be at least 30. For two, he's a cat. A Maine Coon, which means he's huge and fuzzy and adorable and to many people, a better option for Virginia's senator than either Tim Kaine and George Allen. From Hank's platform:

If you improve the living condition of a single home, it has a ripple effect throughout the street. Improve the street, it ripples to the neighborhood. Improve the neighborhood, it ripples to the county. Improve the county, it ripples through the state. Improve the state, it ripples to the entire nation. In each of us we have the power to improve our own lives, to improve the lives of our neighbors, our state, and our country.

Hank received more than 6,000 write-in votes, not an insignificant amount when compared with the 20,000-vote difference when Allen conceded the race to Kaine. He also a big soft belly that I want to just put my face in and go buhbuhbuhbuhbuh.

Charles Darwin is slightly less cuddly, but his platform is no less vital. Darwin was put forth by a social media campaign in a Georgia House race against the virulently anti-science Paul Broun, who called evolution and embryology(!) "lies straight from the pit of hell."

Broun was running unopposed, which means Darwin's 4,000 write-in votes were good enough for second. Which is where Mitt Romney finished, only after spending a bajillion dollars. Broun wasn't even good enough to congratulate his worthy competitor, when asked yesterday.

("Doritos," "Bart Simpson," and "Dog Shit" also had strong showings in the Georgia race.)

"None of These Candidates" placed a close fourth Nevada's senate race, won by incumbent Dean Heller. Unlike other states, where disillusioned electorates are reduced to voting for felids, dead 19th-century Englishmen, and that old chestnut, themselves, Nevada specifically gives voters the option to register their disgust with the choices. "None of These Candidates" has been included on the ballot of every statewide election since 1976, a relic of post-Watergate scorn.

So naturally, this year Republicans tried to get it struck from the ballot. Fearing a close race (and apparently thinking many who would normally vote Republican would be seduced by the superior campaign of "None"), the RNC went to federal court in June and claimed the option was confusing and unconstitutional. They actually won their case, but it was promptly knocked down on appeal.

Heller retained his seat by 12,000 votes. "None of These Candidates" received 45,000.