CNN Announcer: Welcome, candidates, guests of the Reagan Library, and viewers at home. This is the second Republican debate of the primary season. We have adopted a unique format for this debate. All seventeen GOP candidates are on the stage with us tonight. Each will be asked exactly one Gotcha question, and will have fifteen seconds to respond. If a candidate fails to answer, or answers incorrectly, he or she will be hounded mercilessly by the jackals in the mainstream media, and eventually swept off the public stage. We kid you not. Without further ado, here is our first candidate, Gov. Jim Gilmore. Gov. Gilmore, of which state were you governor?
GILMORE: Mmmm, it’s been a while, let’s see. (A buzzer sounds.) Oh, damn!
ANNOUNCER: I’m sorry, but your candidacy has effectively ended. Confidentially, sir, you could have named any state in the union, and we would have had to declare you correct, because none of us knows the correct answer. Next we have Gov. Patacki.
PATACKI: New York State!
ANNOUNCER: Sorry, sir, but we have a different question for you. If you were to ride north on Interstate 87, which state capital would you eventually reach?
PATACKI: Interstate 87? Isn’t that in Connecticut? I’ll say Hartford.
ANNOUNCER: Wrong. The answer is Albany, New York.
PATACKI: Never been there. Whose stupid idea was it to put the capital in Nowhere Land?
ANNOUNCER: Wave goodbye to Gov. Patacki, audience. This question is directed at Sen. Lindsey Graham. Sen. Graham, who put the bomp in the bomp, bomp, bomp?
GRAHAM: Oh, I want to say Jan and Dean?
ANNOUNCER: Is that your final answer?
GRAHAM: OK, yes.
ANNOUNCER: Congratulations, Senator, that is one of several answers that is acceptable. This should add considerable momentum to your listless campaign, sir.
GRAHAM: (Jumps up and down, giggles and applauds.)
(The questioning continues on into the evening. Jeb Bush remains in the race by correctly answering the question “Who is the safe, dull establishment candidate who is certain to lose the election?” Mike Huckabee also stays alive after being asked “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin, rounded to the nearest ten?” “You threw one into my wheelhouse!” the jubilant ex-governor exclaims. Candidates Christie, Walker, Jindal, Kasich and Santorum all fail to correctly answer questions about the chemical composition of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Perhaps the most controversial question of the evening is posed to Sen. Marco Rubio.)
ANNOUNCER: Senator, as a courtesy to you, we are going to ask you a question in your native language.
RUBIO: You mean English? That’s my native language.
ANNOUNCER: No, I mean Spanish.
RUBIO: All right, if you insist. I am sure I can handle it.
ANNOUNCER: Ki nyerte a Nemzeti Liga zászlóval 1908, és milyen körülmények között?
RUBIO: That definitely is not Spanish. My guess is that it is Hungarian. I don’t understand Hungarian very well.
ANNOUNCER: We apologize for any slip-up, sir, but it is too late to change the question. Do you want to take a stab at it?
RUBIO: I suppose I’ve got nothing to lose. My answer is the Chicago Cubs, because of Fred Merkle’s bonehead play.
ANNOUNCER: Your answer is correct in English, but you were required to reply in the language in which the question was posed. Thanks for being with us tonight, ex-candidate Rubio.
RUBIO: (Unprintable response in Spanish.)
(Candidates Fiorina, Carson and Cruz answer some particularly difficult questions, because they are just damn smart. Governor Perry muffs a question about the Cabinet positions that ought to be eliminated, and is dismissed. Rand Paul is dismissed for what the announcer calls “attitude,” after he criticizes a question without trying to answer it. The question was: “Give us a concise summary of Einstein’s relativity theory, and state the three principal objections to the theory advanced by quantum physicists.” Finally, it is GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s turn.)
ANNOUNCER: Mr. Trump, it is our cherished hope that we can put an end to your candidacy here and now. To be fair, however, we are not going to ask you a question about the principal players in the Middle East. That would too obviously reveal our bias. So instead our question is: “How many grains of sand can be found, to the nearest billion, in the Libyan Desert?”
TRUMP: What a crock! You are a loser. You are not just a second-rate journalist, but third-rate.
ANNOUNCER: Sir, your time is almost up. Don’t you want to venture an answer?
TRUMP: OK, if there is anything I know, it is big numbers. I say that there are 3.783 trillion grains of sand in the desert.
ANNOUNCER: Christ, almighty! That is exactly correct! Someone bring me the head of the CNN producer who drafted that question!