Unlike most sane and normal Americans, I watched Tuesday night’s vice-presidential debate with great interest. In case you did not, here is a summary of what went on.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Hello. Welcome to the first and last VP debate between Tim “America’s Stepdad” Kaine and Mike “America’s Father-in-Law” Pence, a rumble that has been described as the “least-anticipated vice-presidential debate of all time.” Sen. Kaine, Gov. Pence, I have called this parent-teacher conference because Hillary and Donald got into a big scuffle and I wanted to see where they were coming from. I will try valiantly to stop them from talking over each other, but, honestly, this is the last you will see or hear of me. Goodbye forever.
TIM KAINE: Shucks, hi. Boy, what a treat. I am so proud of Hillary Clinton. I could not be prouder. I have a lot of experience, but Hillary has all that and more. She’s the cat’s pajamas and the bee’s knees, as we say on the youth soccer teams I coach.
MIKE PENCE: (shakes head sadly)
KAINE: Why is he shaking his head already?
PENCE: I was so honored and surprised to get the call from Donald Trump putting me on his ticket. I grew up in a cornfield. I know from firsthand experience the dangers that aliens can pose. Have you seen what they do to cornfields, Elaine? I never dreamed that a young boy like myself would one day be here, sitting at a table like this. Truly this is a fancy table.
KAINE: I trust Hillary Clinton with my life.
PENCE: (shakes head disapprovingly like a bobblehead that is broken on one axis)
KAINE: Literally the first thing your running mate said this campaign was to call Mexicans rapists and criminals. All he does is spew vile insults in every direction.
PENCE: That can’t be right. Listen, for Hillary Clinton to say that anyone else is running a campaign full of insults is just absurd. Everything I have ever heard about Hillary Clinton is just awful, Tim. Just, just awful. I can’t believe a nice man like you would be seen with her. I read an email that said that she liked to gnaw men’s bones. You are so nice, and I respect you so much. I know my running mate does, too, and that he would never retweet someone’s rude insinuation that you look like a Batman villain.
QUIJANO: (holds up phone) He literally just did that.
PENCE: What’s that?
KAINE: Mike, the Clinton campaign has forced me to memorize sixteen pages of unwieldy buzzwords which I will now unleash on you. “You are Donald Trump’s apprentice!” Is that anything? “You are like a Trump TOWER — of BABBLE!” I am so sorry. “Mike PENCE, none the richer!” This is bad and I regret each of these words.
PENCE: (continues to shake head sadly) These are terr–
KAINE: I don’t disagree.
PENCE: Please don’t interrupt. You and Hillary are running the real insult-driven campaign. Listen, you should read the things I have read on the Internet about her. She is just awful! She likes to grind men’s bones to make her bread. Once a man climbed into her garden at night to steal some rampion and she kept his daughter in a tower for more than two decades. Also, she did Benghazi. Her foreign policy is awful.
KAINE: This just — none of these are facts. Your running mate loves Russia. He’s said–
PENCE: (loudly shakes head)
KAINE: He is always saying how strong and manly he thinks Vladimir Putin is and how good he looks without a shirt and what nice eyes he has.
PENCE: Heh, heh, sounds like I hit a nerve. Listen, the Clinton-Kaine campaign is literally an avalanche of insults.
KAINE: Literally? An avalance? Of insults?
PENCE: (nods solemnly)
KAINE: (trying and failing to disguise this as a cough) Cough! Cough! TAX RETURNS! Uncough.
PENCE: (shakes head like he is about to say the words “no son of mine will major in art history”) My running mate is a wonderful businessman. He does many good business. “Move to Indiana,” I am always telling him, “and bring your business!” but he won’t listen.
KAINE: You are Donald Trump’s app–
PENCE: Just let me finish.
KAINE: Can I interrupt you later?
PENCE: I’d rather you didn’t.
KAINE: So would I, to be quite honest, but that seems to be the strategy I’m going with.
PENCE: Can we talk about the Clinton Foundation? And the private server?
KAINE: What even is the question we’re supposed to be discussing right now? By the way, that is a really lovely tie.
PENCE: (flustered) Thank you, Tim. That means a lot.
KAINE: I think I’ve figured out where we disagree. On a scale from zero to 1000, how much credit do you give Hillary Clinton for getting Osama Bin Laden?
PENCE: Zero. But, on the other hand, I give her 100 percent of credit for creating ISIS. She conjured it up out of nowhere in the desert when Obama found her in her lamp in a cave.
KAINE: I would love to sit down with you and really get to the bottom of where you are hearing all this.
PENCE: Look, I think the bottom line is that Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are traditional Democrats who want to increase government and raise taxes. Whereas my running mate is a traditional Republican who thinks that more government is not the answer, wants to lower taxes, and believes in free trade. I am sure he has a lot of good ideas.
KAINE: Listen, you have a choice between a “you’re hired” or a “you’re fired” president. I am sorry, again, to have had to foist that horrible catchphrase on you. With Hillary Clinton —
PENCE: That catchphrase really was terrible. Please stop it with the catchphrases.
KAINE: But why won’t your running mate release his tax returns? Why won’t he pay taxes?
PENCE: (shaking head uncomfortably like a dashboard ornament) That — that can’t be right.
KAINE: It’s right.
PENCE: Listen, it’s, it’s because he does a business. And business, as Ronald Reagan said first, so well, is what America needs. God Bless America. And look, he made jobs, which are even better than paying taxes in a lot of ways.
KAINE: He promised.
PENCE: I’m sure he wouldn’t break his promise.
KAINE: NIXON RELEASED HIS RETURNS!
PENCE: Well maybe my running mate is no Nixon!
QUIJANO: PLEASE STOP TALKING OVER EACH OTHER!
KAINE: Oh, my god. I had no idea you were still here.
QUIJANO: What will you do about privatizing Social Security?
PENCE: What a wonderful, substantive question. I am sure my running mate has a complex and nuanced answer for this.
KAINE: Mike, please, don’t take this the wrong way, but do you know who your running mate is?
PENCE: Sure I do. He is the Republican nominee.
KAINE: Who specifically?
PENCE: Probably Jeb Bush?
KAINE: (tears out giant fistfuls of his hair)
PENCE: I honestly don’t know. Donald Trump called me and asked if I wanted to be vice president, and since then I have been sitting at rallies with wonderful hymns piping into my headphones, smiling blandly at large crowds. I would have taken any excuse to get out of Indiana, where people hate me and sometimes sodomites want wedding cakes. The point is, at the rate your party is going, we’re going to be in a MOUNTAIN RANGE of debt.
KAINE: Donald Trump is your running mate.
PENCE: (shakes head) (continues shaking head) (shakes head all the way around, Exorcist-style)
KAINE: Are you okay?
QUIJANO: Can we talk about law enforcement?
KAINE: I think community policing is a great idea.
PENCE: (shy) So do I. But then again, I also do not understand the meaning of the words “implicit bias” at all. I don’t think that’s a real thing.
KAINE: Are you literally saying this?
PENCE: (shrugs) Yup.
KAINE: How do you stand there and defend Donald Trump’s crazy insult-ridden campaign?
PENCE: Ours is insult-ridden?
KAINE: Yes. Yes it is. This is BY FAR the least controversial remark that has been made tonight. Literally while we have been here, he has retweeted someone saying I look like a Batman villain. That is a bit much coming from Donald Trump, the guy whose sons were responsible for 100 percent of the crimes in “Law & Order” episodes set in prep schools.
PENCE: (quietly) You were not joking?
KAINE: Why would I be joking? Can you defend Donald Trump?
PENCE: Donald Trump is my running mate?
PENCE: (shakes head) Hillary Clinton called us a basket of deplorables, one time.
KAINE: She says she is sorry that you were offended. And also sorry the regular way. Meanwhile, your running mate is Donald Trump. The guy who is, I think, still fighting a former Miss Universe on Twitter because he believes that he was not wrong to call her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.”
PENCE: (shaking head) Donald Trump?
KAINE: Also he loves dictators. He has, like, a personal Mount Rushmore of them. And also another even more personal Mount Rushmore that I will not mention in this debate.
PENCE: Is this another buzz phrase?
KAINE: Yes, but it is not without merit. What about nuclear war is so funny to you? Donald Trump seems to think it’s a joke. He’s a maniac.
PENCE: (shakes head, nods) I agree that Ronald Reagan was a national hero, whose words I would like to quote to you now.
KAINE: When do we get to talk about how you unconstitutionally blocked refugees from coming to your state?
PENCE: Listen, the judge and I disagreed. Doesn’t mean I was wrong.
KAINE: I think that is literally what it means.
PENCE: (shakes head) He was a very against-Pence judge.
PENCE: And I would do it again if I were ever president.
KAINE: Your running mate said he would get rid of NATO.
PENCE: (nervously) Aren’t these things supposed to have moderators? (beat) Did he really say that?
PENCE: He can’t have said that. Uh. Look. Can we talk about cyber? Hillary Clinton’s emails — that’s — you have to have someone who won’t let them attack, with, the, with the cyber.
KAINE: Hillary Clinton has already gotten something called Justice from something called the Justice Department, and that’s the last word on the matter!
PENCE: Let’s talk about Russia, which is run by a small-minded, mean man.
KAINE: You do know who your running mate is, right?
PENCE: Marco? Ted?
KAINE: No, still Donald Trump. Let’s talk about his tax returns.
PENCE: Or we could talk about how creepy Vladimir Putin is.
KAINE: You agree that he is creepy? Then why are you running with Donald Trump?
PENCE: I’m taking from your response that Donald Trump does … not … think that? (beat) What about the Clinton Foundation?
KAINE: What about the Trump Foundation?
PENCE: I’m seriously running with Donald Trump, the one human being on the planet with more liabilities than Hillary Clinton?
KAINE: He bought a $20,000 portrait of himself.
QUIJANO: Okay, this has been fun and surprisingly substantive. But is there any subject that you, two middle-aged men, feel uniquely qualified to comment on?
KAINE AND PENCE: (simultaneously) Abortion.
KAINE: Just kidding. Obviously, the last thing I would want is for the government to impose on my personal faith and personal choices, and I would not want to do that to women, either.
PENCE: No, I was being serious.
PENCE: (nods) Yes.
QUIJANO: Well, I think I’ve heard enough. Mike, please go home and Google your running mate. This has been the first and only vice-presidential debate.
The debate ends. Pence and Kaine shake hands. Pence starts to whisper something, then stops.
Tim Kaine returns to his minivan. He climbs in, sighs. Stares at his face in the mirror.
“You did okay, Tim,” he says. “Don’t worry.”
A little smiley-face dongle hanging off his mirror agrees.
As he starts to drive out of the parking lot, there is a faint knock on the driver’s side window. He rolls it down.
“Tim?” Mike Pence asks.
“You–” Pence looks down. “You said a lot of interesting things back there. I really felt like we bonded. Especially over the uh, you know, faith issues.”
Kaine nods. “You’re going to have to teach me how you manage your eyebrows,” he says.
Pence shrugs. “They’ve just sort of always been like this.”
“Well, good talk,” Kaine says, starting to roll up the window.
“Wait,” Pence says, sticking his hand through. “Those things you told me — about Donald — were — were they true?”
Kaine nods. “There’s video.”
“Can — can I come with you?”
Kaine pushes the automatic button on the sliding door. “Climb in, champ,” he says. “You want some granola?”
Pence reflexively shrinks away. “No, thanks. Not yet.”
“Sorry,” Kaine adds. “If I’d know I was the one breaking that to you–“
He trails off.
Pence shakes his head. “It’s okay,” he says. “I was bound to find out someday.”