Professional white man Mittens Romney edged out Rick Santorum by only eight votes in Iowa this week, with America's most prominent homophobe falling just short after a busload of his supporters got lost in a corn maze they visited en route to their farmhouse caucus.

Ron Paul came in a tight third, which you'll never know because the corporate media, and especially Fox News, continues to deny his uncomfortable existence. Meanwhile, Flavor of the Month Newt-Boy Gingrich came in fourth, and tried to slit his wrists using the razor edge of his wife's Jane Jetson hairdo.

Rick Perry headed back home to Texas — the GPS in his pickup truck with the NRA and KKK bumper stickers guiding the way — to spend some time looking in the mirror "reassessing" his campaign and makeup. (He's opted to focus on South Carolina's January 21 primary.) And Michelle Bachmann was last seen prowling around outside a Des Moines TV station, grabbing anyone she could find and screaming, "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille," before being led away by her personal veterinarian and shot up with a horse tranquilizer. When she came to, she declared, "I have decided to stand aside." One down . . . .

The worst part of this GOP debacle is that the Republicans have allowed 123,000 evangelical hicks to shape the face of their now-fractured party, pitting the loathed and ethically vacant corporate America poster boy Mittens against Santorum — the latter being a vile, deluded, nasty little piece of work who poisons the well with hatred every time he opens his mouth.

P&J's final words for the Republicans in Iowa who have set up this degrading scenario echo what our mothers used to say to P&J when we committed some atrociously stupid stunt: "I hope you're proud of yourself."


BIG CHIEF (JOLLY)

Phillipe and Jorge were heartened to see Governor Linc Chafee appoint our friend George Zainyeh as his chief of staff over the holidays. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

P&J got to know George when he served as former Congressman Patrick Kennedy's right-hand man. Zainyeh was the type of person who would return your phone calls promptly and he invariably had the right info or number to call to get results. The fact that he seemed to know everyone from Pawtucket to Patagonia didn't hurt.

But what we liked most about George was his sincere interest in helping people out, mirroring the style and priorities of his then-boss; Patrick may have come across as shrill and over-the-top at times, but he always stood up for what he believed in.

We can also see Mr. Zainyeh having the personal nerve and political nous to tap the Lincster on the shoulder and say, "Uh, Linc, that is not a good idea, trust me" when the state's head ramrod goes off on a cosmic side trip with a notion not yet fully formed in his head.

Chafee could do a lot worse than to have someone who enjoys the political life — and a good laugh — keeping his charges in line. And where else could you find a governor hiring, as chief of staff, a guy he ran against for a mayoral post years ago?

Ah, the two degrees of separation that is a magical mainstay of our fair state.

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