It's an exciting day for the conservative movement! Perhaps even the most exciting day of the year, right up there with Guy Fawkes Day. The 10,000-attendee Conservative Political Action Conference kicked off this morning in Washington, and it will run through Saturday. It's the Republican party's most important gathering every year, and it's especially vital in years, like this one, when there's a large crop of potential presidential candidates to size up.

All of the top Republicans considering White House runs — except Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, who are lazy — will be giving speeches over the weekend. The purpose of these speeches is to pander to as many of the interest groups in attendance as possible while using the party's vaguest red-meat rhetoric about nothing. The candidate with the smallest pander-count and most nuanced rhetoric is traditionally executed live on stage during the conference's closing ceremony. (At least that's what conference organizers would do if they had any guts.)

The conference's first speaker was delightfully insane Rep. Michele Bachmann, CPAC's "hype man." She came prepared with many hilarious jokes to get the crowd of surly grumps all pumped up. Here's but one (via CBS News):

Conservative Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann opened the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington Thursday with a speech focused on America's debt - and specifically the money owed to "friendly Chinese bankers" and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

"With all the money that we owe China, I think you might correctly say, Hu's your daddy," she quipped.

Hu Jintao must be so sick of this fucking joke that he doesn't understand at all but hears constantly during his visits to America.

Expect much more fun from CPAC 2011. All prominent conservatives worth their salt will be there, except the ones who are terrified of gay people, and the gay people who are terrified of Donald Trump.