Who's Showing Up at Next Week's Republican Debate?

The first debate of the 2012 Republican presidential primary season is on May 5. That's but one se'en-day away! Fox News is sponsoring, live from South Carolina. The setting has all the trappings of a lively Republican political discussion about our nation's future. But as of now, only a handful of potential candidates plan on showing. What's up with all the other losers?

As of now, according to National Journal, the confirmed candidates are Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Buddy Roemer. The correct takeaway here is, "Well at least Rick Santorum will be funny." And hopefully Ron Paul will point out, as he usually does, that American foreign policy was a major reason behind 9/11, since it gets the other candidates all hot and bothered.

The original fake presidential candidate (before Donald Trump came along), Newt Gingrich, had previously committed to the debate but now says he won't show up. Candidates must have formed official presidential exploratory committees in order to participate, and we all know that Newt Gingrich is allergic to forming official presidential exploratory committees. It's discrimination, really. Here's how "Team Newt" is handling this sneaky exit:

"It's becoming increasingly clear that we're not going to make the deadline,'' said Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler. "We had always planned to be in the debate and want to be in the debate, but I don't think we will.''

Tyler explained that Gingrich has "business entanglements'' and "contractual obligations'' that legally prevent him from immediately creating an exploratory campaign. He added that Republicans shouldn't see Gingrich's absence as a sign that he is leaning against a presidential bid.

"I think people already understand that he's serious,'' he said.

Rick Tyler is a stitch. "I think people already understand that [Newt Gingrich] is serious." I mean that's a joke, right?

Mitt Romney, meanwhile, has formed a committee but probably fancies himself better than these unwashed, second-tier cretins. He's still making a decision. And what if that gay heckler manages to get in? Then it's certainly a no-go.

Michele Bachmann may still form a committee by the deadline. She should do that. But Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Jon Huntsman have no intention of showing up. And then there's Donald Trump, who is not running for president.

[Image from a 2007 GOP presidential primary debate via AP]