There is a prevalent idea that things magically cease to be mildly unpleasant or soul-destroyingly dull if you give them a fun-sounding name. They tried this with “Painting parties,” “Tile-regrouting funzone shenanigans,” and “Saxby Chambliss,” and it worked none of these times.

Veepstakes are victim to the same delusion. Stakes sound fun! Veep sounds fun! Or rather, it sounds like something on HBO, which used to be synonymous with fun until they decided to air a movie dedicated entirely to bird-watching in Central Park.

The veepstakes fall in the cruel, hot, lengthy summer months of the presidential campaign.

“Hey,” everyone says, after running out of drying paint to watch and growing grass to buzz over, “it’s time to speculate widely about who will be selected as the vice presidential candidate!”

Rumors say the stakes may be over as soon as this week. Thank heavens. I didn’t know how much more of this pulse-pounding excitement my fragile system was going to be able to take. If I have to hear Marco Rubio insist that he doesn’t want the job one more time, I should be entitled to a free popcorn. But people so seldom hand you free popcorn when you feel you deserve it.

Still, contemplate the list of people currently being considered for the office and you see why we gazed at the grass for so long. Far be it from me to say that they are not endlessly gripping, but if you show pictures of Rob Portman to fussy babies they fall asleep instantly.

The whole point of the vice presidential dance is to insist you do not want it loudly enough that the people handing it out take notice.

Chris Christie DEFINITELY DOES NOT WANT IT, so much so that you can hear him in neighboring counties.

And then there’s Tim Pawlenty, Minnesotan.

In the 1970s, UK Chancellor Denis Healey said that being attacked by Geoffrey Howe was “like being savaged by a dead sheep.” I’m glad he was never attacked by Tim Pawlenty, a man whose idea of a threat was to offer to mow your lawn. Maybe he does unfortunate things to your plants, but I wouldn’t put money on it. He barely attacked Mitt Romney in the debates, and everyone attacked Mitt Romney in the debates.

Then again, this is the vice presidency, an office compared unfavorably by those who have held it to a bucket of warm — well, something. If your bid to be elected succeeds, you spend the next four years a heartbeat away from power, trying desperately to avoid making news. For most attention-seekers, this sounds like one of the more painful inner circles of Hell.

If the bid fails, you become John Edwards.

One has the sense that Joe Biden only has the job because he was unable to scuttle away in time. And hey, it beats hanging out in Scranton.*

Perhaps I was too hasty to assume that vehemently denying any interest in the position was merely the correct, polite thing to do when offered the vice presidency.

Now I wonder if they’re just being honest.

But the bouquet’s about to drop, whether anyone dashes to catch it or not.

And here’s a slideshow!

And chat live about this or anything else today at 11!

*I’m sorry, Scranton. You never did anything to me.