At first I thought Perry was just trying to show that he was willing to step up to the plate as the joke candidate once Herman Cain departed. Or even that he so enjoyed Adele’s most recent album that he got momentarily confused. But it goes much deeper than that. This is what Perry has been trying to do all along.

Rick Perry is just courting the drunk vote.

Everything Rick Perry has done this entire campaign will make sense when you reflect on this.

Rick Perry knows what his appeal is to sober voters — somewhere between the negatives and the single digits. Turn18, and you aren’t going to dash to the polls to vote for Perry. “The guy who can’t even name three Cabinet departments?” you say. “No way. I’m voting for Vermin Supreme, a serious candidate.” But hit the legal drinking age and you just might.

Remember that speech Perry gave, the surreal rambling speech where he giggled and squinted and waved? “Live free or die! Victory or death! Bring it!” The speech where he smiled at a container of maple syrup like someone had just handed him his newborn child and that child had turned out to be maple-flavored and delicious? Regular voters quailed. But drunk voters? It was love at first, slightly wavering sight.

His whole demeanor, which people describe as “a particularly cruel George W. Bush impersonation from the mid-2000s,” is the sort of thing you find strangely entrancing two or three or possibly four Long Islands in.

And his ads — they’re fine sober, if a little vertigo-inducing! But inebriated, they’re like a journey to another world. Beating up Ben Bernanke seems more and more appealing as the whiskey flows. And Perry’s most recent idea to send disagreeable federal workers to “some really God-awful place”? Makes a lot more sense if you’ve just finished a third round of shots.

It’s not ineptness, or ineptitude, or — whatever the third one is. It’s strategery, as that George W. Bush impersonator would have said.

The more you imbibe, the more appealing Rick Perry seems. “He has nice hair,” you mutter. “He seems as though he would not require too much intellectually demanding conversation on long car rides. He will never bore me by listing the Cabinet departments from memory, as Ron Paul might. ”

To drunk people, everyone else seems sharper, funnier and better at debating. All of these are characteristics Rick Perry badly needs. And Perry seems to know it, focusing all his campaigning efforts on “seeming as appealing to drunk people as possible.” He’s not even trying to appeal to those below the age limit at this point.

It’s a brilliant strategy, really.

“But wait,” someone shouts. “What about the date? It won’t do him any good if the drunk voters show up on the wrong date!”

The election-date flub? Yeah, I’m not sure what caused that. Doesn’t quite fit with the plan.

Give me another drink, though, and I bet it’ll make sense.