Over and over during the 2016 presidential campaign, one thought keeps occurring to me: The only way this plot makes sense is if the next scene reveals a huge anti-American conspiracy bent on destroying our country.
On one side, we have Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Islamic State conspiring to place a serially-bankruptbillionaire blowhard (with his own line of neckwear!) into the Oval Office at a key moment in history. On the other, a tireless and patriotic Donald Trump, backed by a band of failed online media entrepreneurs, fights the evil plan in a desperate attempt to put the nuclear launch codes in the hands of a corrupt and dishonest retread who has the virtue of, at least, being relatively sane.
Think about it.
At the beginning of last week, Trump was plunging in the polls as even his most ardent supporters come to realize the guy can only stop groping, kissing and otherwise assaulting women when he is reading the inadvertently-honest emails the Russians hacked from the Clinton campaign chairman's Gmail account or when he is composing new ways to infuriate everyone with a vagina.
Then, BAM!!!, the FBI director writes a letter to senior lawmakers saying that due to an investigation into the skanky hijinks of Clinton's Muslim-American right-hand gal's testosterone-addled ex-congressman soon-to-be ex-husband (named Weiner!), the G-men have discovered a hard drive where potentially Top Secret State Department emails snuggled up next to an archive of crotch-bulge JPEGs used in "Carlos Danger's" perverse Twitter mating rituals with potentially underage girls.
THIS. CAN. NOT. BE. REAL. LIFE.
But it is. And as a highly-paid Washington journalist, it is my job to make sense of this and explain it to other people. I can't. Some days after work, I sit there and look at my 2-year-old son and try not to imagine the world in 20 years. I write a relaxing column about all the ways Obamacare is doomed to fail.
But then I accidentally pay attention to the presidential campaign and the conspiracy keeps coming back.
An Islamic State-inspired son of an Afghan Muslim immigrant (who thinks he is the Afghan president-in-exile) kills four dozen Americans at the Pulse, an Orlando gay nightclub. As if on cue, Democratic leaders and liberal opinionators make it seem like they are more worried about the killer's homophobia than his hatreds' religious and immigrant roots. If there was a conspiracy, this is exactly what they'd cook up to make Trump's ban on Muslim immigration seem sane.
Trump won't take that lying down so he orders his wife to plagiarize a speech from Michelle Obama while he cooks up a feud with a Muslim couple whose son gave his life to protect America from Islamic terrorism. For some reason, Republicans love Michelle Obama's speech when it comes from the lips of a white chick who, at one point, might have been an illegal alien.
Hillary Clinton can't stand the thought of having to decide whether Winston Churchill's bust should go back on the mantel of the Oval Office, so when the FBI exonerated her in the investigation into her secret email server cover-up, she doubled down on the lies, telling Fox News' Chris Wallace, "Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I've said is consistent with what I have told the American people."
Not one of those words was true. I forget whether she compared herself to a "short-circuited" robot as a preview of the bold move to bolster the Trump campaign or as an excuse afterward.
Every day it's a race to prove who wants to be president the least.
I got an email from HillaryClinton.com in September asking for money. The subject line began, "If I am being honest ..." When I saw it, I thought, "Oh for God's sake, why start now?" If Clinton had started being honest five years ago or even one year ago, the American people would be carrying her to Washington on a flag-draped litter to install her in the White House while they sing old Methodist hymns .
But she didn't. She won't or can't. The only reasonable explanation left is that she will do anything, absolutely anything, to make Donald Trump president. The question is what she and Vladimir Putin have to gain.