It all began with an execrable rendition of The Star Spangled Banner and went downhill from there.
On and on it went, did CNN’s “three-hour debate from hell”, like some weird Ancient Greek endurance event, conducted before the mad backdrop of an old Air Force One airliner that the saintly Ronald Reagan used to get about in.
On and on it went. The first hour was sparky enough, the second hour tolerable, the third the kind of thing they might have screened at Abu Ghraib.
I was necking painkillers throughout, but I’m pretty sure this is the gist.
CNN moderator: I’m Jake Tapper. We’re live at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California for the main event. Round two of CNN’s presidential debate starts now.
The 11 leading Republican candidates for president are at their podiums. They are ready to face off, and if you’ve been watching this race, you know anything could happen over the next few hours.
Senator Rand Paul: I’m an eye surgeon and I don’t like government. Thank you.
Former Governor Mike Huckabee: We’re the A Team and he’s Mr T. Ha ha ha. Thank you.
Senator Marco Rubio: I’m from Florida and I love America. Thank you.
Senator Ted Cruz: Politicians are terrible. Thank you.
Ben Carson: I’m a retired neurosurgeon and I love children. Thank you.
Donald Trump: I’m Donald Trump. A billionaire but not braggadocious. Thank you.
Former Governor Jeb Bush: I’m Jeb Bush. Washington is broken. Thank …
Governor Scott Walker: I’m Scott Walker. I love Ronald Reagan. Thank you.
Carly Fiorina: The government is too big. Thank you.
Governor John Kasich: I’m John Kasich. I love Ronald Reagan and his plane and America. Thank you.
Governor Chris Christie: My name is Chris Christie, and it’s not about me, I’m Chris Christie. Thank you.
Moderator: Mr Trump, what about your temperament and nuclear buttons?
Trump: Rand Paul should get the hell out. I have a great temperament. I used to be on The Apprentice.
Pretty much everyone: In a very real sense I’m an outsider, too.
Bush: I have a proven record of conservative leadership.
Trump: Shut up, Jeb.
Bush: Don’t cut me off.
Trump: Shut up.
Christie: Hillary Clinton believes in the systematic murder of children in the womb to preserve their body parts.
Everyone else: Ssssssss!
Fiorina: Iran and abortion are both important issues. Thank you.
Trump: I will take care of women. I respect women. I will take care of women. Women are important, Iran is important and North Korea certainly is important. That guy is a maniac.
Moderator: Mr Trump, what did you tell Rolling Stone about Mrs Fiorina’s face?
Trump: I think she’s got a beautiful face, and I think she’s a beautiful woman.
Moderator: All right.
Bush: Leave my wife out of it, Donald.
Trump: Well, I have to tell you, I hear phenomenal things. I hear your wife is a lovely woman…
Bush: She is. She’s fantastic.
Trump: I don’t know her.
Bush: She is absolutely the love of my life. Why don’t you apologise to her right now.
Trump: I said nothing wrong.
Bush: My wife is a Mexican-American. She’s an American by choice. She loves this country.
Fiorina: Can I just …
Paul: Can I just …
Huckabee: Can I just …
Rubio: Can I just …
Cruz: Can I just …
Carson: I’m a retired neurosurgeon.
Walker: Can I just …
Kasich: Can I just …
Christie: Can I just …
Trump: I’m Donald Trump.
Bush: I’m Ronald Reagan.
Trump: Shut up, Jeb.
Fiorina: I led Hewlett Packard through a very difficult time.
Trump: You screwed it!
Fiorina: You ran up mountains of debt!
Trump: I think she’s got a beautiful face.
Bush: I’m kind of fond of the Red Peak flag.
Trump: Shut up.
Huckabee: Kill the taxes.
Carson: Anaesthetise the government.
Walker: Ronald Reagan!
Christie: Lock up Hillary Clinton!
Bush: Don’t lock up my brother!
Trump: I’ll assemble a team.
Paul: May I respond?
Walker: Barack Obama.
Bush: That’s my brother.
Carson: A vacuum.
Christie: President George W Bush.
Kasich: Jewish and Christian principals.
Fionna: Fifty Army brigades.
Moderator: We’re going to go to a break.
Violent sighs. Wild applause.
Bush: So, 40 years ago, I smoked marijuana
Gasps. Laughter. Wild applause. Bongs gurgle.
Rubio: There’s a broader issue, and the wider issue is that broader issue.
A strange humming. A trickling sound.
Moderator: Climate change.
Carson: I am a neuroscientist.
Moderator: Pick a woman to put on the $10 bill.
Huckabee: My wife.
Carson: My mother.
Trump: My daughter.
Bush: Margaret Thatcher.
Kasich: Mother Theresa.
Moderator: Finish it.
Paul: Ronald Reagan!
Cruz: Winston Churchill! Kill the terrorists!
Trump: More of everything! MOAR!
Bush: Lead the world and so on.
Walker: Ronald Reagan was an underdog too!
Fiorina: Lady Liberty and Lady Justice. Beautiful faces.
Kasich: Bottom up.
Christie: It’s about you, it not about me, and I am Chris Christie.
Gifs via Mashable, etc.