Here's an exclusive advance transcript of the next Democratic presidential debate:
My first question goes to . . . excuse me, sir, this is highly irregular.
Y'all had this extra lectern backstage, so I thought I'd bring it out, make myself at home. Hey, throw that spotlight over this way!
Sir, this stage is reserved -
I'll just be a moment. Got a little gift here for my wife. Here, honey, open it up.
Awww, how precious! It's an itty-bitty kitten! Look how warm and fuzzy it is. I've got real tears in my eyes, just thinking about how, when I was a girl, I petted every kitty in my neighborhood each and every day, and the boys all flirted with me because I had so much human empathy for those kitties. They flirted with me even though I wore thick glasses, which I refused to remove as a matter of principle -
Exactly, because you were fighting for change. A change agent. An agent for positive change. A lifetime advocate for a change agenda -
For Pete's sake, can anyone else talk around here?
Mr. President, please return that lectern to the stagehands. Sen. Obama, a question. In the upcoming South Carolina primary, nearly half the electorate will be African American. What will you say to them?
Well, I -
I have a dream today! I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character! I have a dream today!
Mr. President, I thought you were leaving.
That was from Martin Luther King's '63 speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Can Sen. Obama do that? You want to hear me do the whole speech?
Maybe later, dear. Thank you, goodbye.
Let me speak to the larger issue here. I believe Americans want to reject the dynasty of the '90s. They're tired of the old, they yearn to hope anew. Those of you in the audience will find the song sheet for "Kumbaya" on page three of your Obama campaign brochure -
As the son of a mill worker, I was too poor to have a kitten. Every day, a child in poverty wakes up without a kitten. You know, I learned a lot about poverty last year while earning half a million dollars for a hedge fund, and I believe that poor people opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. I was, too, except for when I voted for it. Mrs. Clinton also voted for it. She and her rich lobbyist pals marched us to war and sent poor people to fight it.
John, you don't want this warm and fuzzy kitten to bare its claws.
Seems like a good time for audience questions. What do we have here . . . a citizen dressed as a snowman! Didn't you show up at the Democratic debate sponsored by YouTube? Welcome back, snowman.
How are y'all tonight?
Mr. President? C'mon, you're not playing fair.
Bill [removing snowman head]:
My wife is being Swift-boated up there, and she needs my help. Honey, isn't it true that you and I were both against that war from the very beginning, despite what I'm on record as saying at the time?
Bill, let me handle this, since I am running on my own. It's true I voted yes on the Iraq war, but that doesn't mean I thought it was a good idea, any more than I saw it as a good idea to give drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants when I voiced support for the idea. With respect to the war vote, it's true I didn't read the National Intelligence Estimate, with all the footnotes that argued against war, but that's because I was so busy reminiscing about childhood. Did you know I was a crossing guard in sixth grade? And all the boys -
Did that "snowman" leave? Good. Let's get some equal time around here. I'm the only one on this stage who can out-talk Bill Clinton -
Speaking of warm and fuzzy, I'm the only sixtysomething on this stage with two kids under the age of 7.
I'm the only one on this stage who would sit down with space aliens, and negotiate with no preconditions -
I'm the only one on this stage who served as U.N. ambassador, and, in that capacity, offered Monica Lewinsky a job. . . . No, let me amend that. There was much I didn't know at the time. . . . No, let me amend that. I love the Clintons, the vice presidency is open, and I -
Let me speak to the larger issue here. What we've seen tonight is a demonstration of why we need a different kind of politics. I'll give you an example. Hundreds of thousands of donors are financing President Clinton's library, but we don't know who most of them are or whether they'd expect favors in a Hillary presidency. They'd get none from me. All special interests would be automatically in thrall to my unique life story.
I have a follow-up question. . . . Wait, give me back that microphone! Guards, remove the president from the premises!
Y'all keep your hands offa me. I just have one question as guest host. Sen. Obama, would you agree there's no truth to the rumor that you were snorting coke in kindergarten while you were writing your essay about wanting to be president?
C'mon, Bill, I'm running a positive campaign. I once painted my kitchen orange, my mom loves me, I love this kitty -
Sir, you're being removed. I know this is not your last interruption.
Bill [being carried off]:
It all depends on what the meaning of the word