Simi Valley__ In a bizarre day even by presidential campaign standards, all major candidates dropped out of the race.
Longtime observers of the national political scene agreed that no precedent exists for such a wholesale collapse of candidacies -- particularly in such a short period of time and after years of intense campaigning. While the pull-outs of Democrat John Edwards and Republican Rudy Giuliani were widely anticipated, the other announcement astounded veteran political operatives and media pundits.
Here's a sampling of what the candidates who were thought to be left standing had to say:
John McCain: The Arizona senator acknowledged that the sadistic torture he endured as a Vietnam POW has made him mentally unstable and unsuitable for the role as leader of the free world.
"Let's face it. I'm old, tortured, and can't even comb my own hair. This was always a vanity deal for me. Late last night, it appeared I might actually win. I love my country too much to allow that to happen."
Hillary Clinton: The second-term Senator from New York said she has offers to rejoin the Wal-Mart board and rebuild the Rose Law Firm and to get a boyfriend who will wait on her hand and foot. She also expressed a deep interest in baking cookies and having tea parties.
"My soon-to-be-former husband put me up to this. I'd rather have half his money than all of the White House. I pretended like I really wanted the Oval Office because he manipulated me into believing that I did. I don't want to be president. I want a divorce."
Barack Obama: The charismatic young Senator from Illinois said his run was an attempt to ramp up book sales and had gotten out of hand. He expressed worry about a constitutional crisis.
"Look, I'm not not a natural born citizen. Or even a registered voter. On the other hand, I am a flaming Islamic terrorist. I didn't plan the World Trade Center attacks, but I knew it was coming and didn't tell. The Barcelona train attacks and the London subway explosions were my idea. I'm blackmailing the Kennedy family and really need to cut and run before I get in too deep."
Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor acknowledged a long-term affair with his church secretary and church goat. He said his presidential run was an attempt to break into the acting profession.
"All in all, I fooled everyone pretty good. I still think I'd be great in the movies. But this religious everyman smiley faced personae I project, it was all just an act. In real life, I like to ice down a six-pack, smoke some weed, and watch the Playboy Channel."
Willard "Mitt" Romney: Presumably the last man standing on the GOP side also threw in the towel. Certain parts of his private life, the former governor and business turn-around artist said, would eventually catch up with him.
"I have seven wives and 34 children. Most of the money I accumulated came from bribes. And when I take off this toupee, I'm bald as a bowling ball. When you consider all the brain washing and surgical electric implants, I'm more robot than human. I just want to join the circus and relax."
Attempts to reach obscure Texas congressman Ron Paul were unsuccessful. But a top aide insisted that Paul is not a presidential candidate and never has been.
Leading political scientists and media commentators were stunned by today's developments. Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia's School for Presidential Studies summed up the sentiments of him and his fellow academics.
"This is some goofy shit," Sabato said. "At this time, Charlie Wilson has the most name ID and probably would be considered the frontrunner. Hannah Montana is also very popular with the younger voters."
Texas Governor Rick Perry informally made himself available, but was quickly arrested for outstanding parking tickets. A spokesperson for the Austin Parks Police said Perry would remain behind bars pending the next presidential election -- assuming there is one.
Early speculation centered on former president Chris Rock being asked to return to his old job. His reaction can be found on this newspaper's website at www.headofstate-themovie.com.