Welcome to Utah's Super Doomsday — so named because candidates on both sides of the political aisle still vertical after inhaling a months of bus fumes are campaigning on a platform of "THE SKY IS FALLING BUT DON'T WORRY MY BIPARTISAN BIPOLAR STIMULUS PLAN CAN REVERSE THE EARTH'S GRAVITATIONAL PULL"

Although many have found that you simply can't beat, "I'M NOT GEORGE BUSH," when looking for cheap applause on the stump — except here in the dark burgundy of red states where candidates not channeling GWB do so at great political peril. Despite the ongoing Iraq war and a swooning national economy, here in the bushiest of Bush Country, the president's popularity meter remarkably remains between Jell-O and thin Marie.

Which is why if you peer at Utah from outer space through the Hubble Telescope, you MIGHT be able to make out a very faint impression of national political relevance and influence — or is that the outline of Mitt Romney?

Romney, a three-time silver medalist in the 2008 GOP primaries thus far, didn't need to campaign in Utah — which he's deemed his own personal campaign piggy bank. All Zeus, as he likes to be called, has to say is, "Winter Olympics" and he automatically gets 75 percent support of Utahns most likely to vote. Anything to do with his hair is good for another 10 percent bump.

Romney did come to town over the weekend to pay his respects to departed LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, but despite also committing large sums of his personal fortune to this election, he managed to resist the temptation to pass the hat.

Other candidates, meanwhile, seem unable or unwilling to believe that 2.7 million devils with horns — Mike Huckabee excluded — can actually be so deluded and have dispatched proxies to the Brine Shrimp State in the hopes of harvesting delegates on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.

Hillary Clinton made one final try last night at wooing Utah's electorate with a Hallmark Channel moment — an intimate nationally televised town hall event for them and, oh say, about 100 million voters in 21 other Democratic Doomsday states.

Last week former First Child Chelsea Clinton also visited the state, but her appearance at the U. was reportedly as stimulating as the beater brush in a 7-year-old vacuum.

Everyone had been holding out hope for another visit by Hillary's Husband, who, when not undoing 50 years of progress between the races, is campaigning hard for a third, fourth and fifth term. The talk, however, is that Mr. Bill suffered flashbacks to 1992 when Utah's electorate — apparently as deluded back then as they are it is now — were the only ones voting him behind that odd little rich guy with the big ears.

Charismatic O'Barack O'Bama cancelled his second personal appearance in Utah last week for fear of being upstaged by a cane. Instead, wife O'Michelle came courting Utah's black vote yesterday, but Jerry Sloan kicked her out of Jazz practice. There's still a chance, however, she can rally the support of the Carolyn Tanner Irish.

Arizona Sen. Father Time, the current GOP front-runner, considered campaigning in Utah but was prohibited from doing so by an arcane state statute banning appearances by candidates exceeding the state's median age by more than 60 years, or if trailing an Olympic demigod by 70 points or more in the polls.

So soak it up Utah. It's time to participate in America's bloated, broken-down political process. And isn't that why we invested all that money becoming an irrelevant Super Doomsday state after all those years of simply being irrelevant?


Chuck Gates has overseen the newspaper's presidential primary coverage since the candidacies of Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards actually seemed to matter.