This is Republican Idol!

It was performance day here at Republican Idol, and all the contestants were nervous. Even Mitt Romney appeared to be sporting a light sheen of sweat, though his maintenance crew later claimed that it was condensation due to a malfunctioning cooling duct.  It’s been a long struggle for these hopefuls, with a grueling tour schedule that has had them onstage in cities from Florida to California.  Despite singing essentially the same songs in every performance, each contestant has had setbacks and each contestant has a story to tell, except for Rick Perry, who can’t remember his story.  But it all comes down to how they connect with the voting audience.

First up was Newt Gingrich.  Widely derided in the beginning as past his prime, Newt has modernized his repertoire and gone from Golden Oldie to Golden Child.  Now seen as a frontrunner, Newt belted out his popular hit, “Hey!  I’m Not Mitt!” to cheers and applause, many audience members joining in.  In a rare display of party unity, Rick Santorum and Gary Johnson were seen with their arms around each other, swaying to the beat and singing along.  Santorum later released a statement to the press clarifying that he was, in fact, extremely heterosexual and that he was merely caught up in the moment, a little curious, and that it meant nothing, nothing at all.  Gary Johnson posted a reply on YouTube indicating that his next-door neighbor’s dog was more heterosexual than Santorum.

Next up was Michele Bachmann.  She put a conservative twist on the Howard Dean classic, “I Swear I’m Not A Crazy Nutjob,” beginning with a quiet ramble and building to a final, climactic scream that brought the live audience to its feet but had the judges rolling their eyes, and left many viewers at home wondering if her handlers were hiding her medication.  She remains a strong contender and a media favorite, but will her followers find her entertaining enough to send her to the finals?

The night ended with embattled favorite Herman Cain, who turned in a raucous rendition of his popular “I Said 9! 9! 9!”  The audience joined in and, though many got the details of the words wrong when it came to the verses, they all came together to shout “9! 9! 9!” on the chorus.  Critics have speculated as to the ultimate meaning of the song, which remains unclear and has therefore generated a great deal of buzz.  Even buzzier are the allegations of improprieties with female fans after performances.  However, an investigator looking into the allegations was heard to comment that it was the only way the poor man was likely to see any action, and to have a heart.

Votes will be cast, dreams will be dashed, and one of the contestants will go on to the final show for a chance at a four-year contract and a whole new life.  Who will it be?  Only time will tell, but one thing is certain:  we’re in for many, many more performances before we finally choose a winner.