Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has a double-digit lead in the polls, so not many people have been paying attention to the state's gubernatorial race. That is until people realized how magical the second stringers in a Vermont election tend to be when C-SPAN broadcast the latest debate last week.
Not that anyone can remember what Shumlin or his Republican challenger Scott Milne -- both of whom sort of look like the small-town fathers of a network drama that got canceled after five episodes -- had to say. Anyone who tuned in was instantly blinded by the beards and sequins dominating the screen.
The captivating Independent and third-party candidates who also took part in the debate -- they include a guy who has run in every election in Vermont for the past 44 years, a woman who founded "a consulting group for hempcrete construction and other hemp-related products" and a woman who is also running for Congress (this happens more than you'd think in Vermont) -- were far more interesting.
You can't really understand the true beauty of it until you watch it, so click here.
Given that the debate was lifted to a state of transcendence on the strength of the beards alone, it was inevitable that the Internet would take note.
However, the commentary that Vermont media organizations and observers had to add to the debate -- and the attention it was getting -- is far superior to anything you could have seen from outside the state. Here are the six best things Vermonters had to say about the gubernatorial debate and the fact that the state's "charm" had attracted the attention of outsiders.
"A statewide debate gained some Internet fame, but is it for the wrong reasons?"
"The highlight of the week — at least judged by Twitter activity — was a Thursday night debate hosted by Vermont PBS that featured all seven candidates on the November ballot. Shumlin and Milne were there, of course, along with Diamondstone, Feliciano and independents Bernard Peters, Emily Peyton and Cris Ericsson, who was sporting a hat worthy of the Kentucky Derby."
"The five other candidates on the ballot include an aging socialist, an earth activist and hemp promoter, a woman with a big hat, a libertarian, and an independent who appears to be a character from Duck Dynasty."
"Independent Bernard Peters, who styled himself as 'about as grassroots as it gets,' was light on policy positions, but did say at one point that Vermont needs to reduce red tape for those looking to start a business in the state, or 'they’re going to pass us by like roadkill on the interstate.'"