Without question, this has been one of the oddest contests for the Republican presidential nomination in recent memory. And, folks, it’s about to get odder. The conservative Web site Newsmax will team up with Ion Television for a GOP debate on Dec. 27 in Des Moines. Now, are you sitting down? The moderator will be — wait for it — Donald Trump. Yes, the man who splashed around in the dirty birther pool during a flirtation with a run for the White House earlier this year and then opted not to run will rejoin the fray as moderator.

Get the popcorn — and pitcher of your favorite cocktail. This is going to be good — assuming the candidates show up.

[UPDATE, 2:45 p.m.: So, I just got off the phone with Donald Trump. While “the real Trump is really good at real estate,” he told me, he’s very excited about his role as debate moderator. “We’re going to ask a lot of questions that haven’t been asked,” he said when I asked what will make this debate different, “maybe ask them in a different way.”

There will be questions on the environment, education and social issues. Trump is especially concerned that “not enough emphasis is being put on what the world is doing to the United States and how they are taking us apart piece by piece.”

Trump told MSNBC’s Tamron Hall earlier today that he would endorse a candidate soon after the debate. But he had a word of caution for the party. “I’m a free agent on the 16th of May,” he said, referring to the date of the season finale of his show “Celebrity Apprentice.” “So, if I don’t like who [the party nominates], I’m a free agent to do what I want to do.”

We might need more popcorn, folks. ]