The Republican clown car lacks a designated driver. It careens around the country, carrying the candidates for the GOP presidential nomination. Seventeen people are trying to grab the wheel. But nobody has even a learner's permit.
When I was a teenager, "mooning" out car windows was popular. We would speed down Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, and if all four windows, including the driver's, were occupied by a naked behind, it was called a star cluster.
You could say this was a desperate cry for attention. Or you could say it was just kids having dimwitted fun.
The Republicans are now trying for their own star clusters. Sixteen of them are crying out for attention. One is having dimwitted fun.
Want to guess the name of the guy having fun?
"So I guess I haven't made any mistakes," Donald Trump said recently, pointing to a poll showing him leading in Iowa. "I'm sure I will, at some point, but so far, you would have to say, it hasn't worked out badly, right?"
This is hard to argue with. He makes crude attacks on Mexican "rapists" and attacks John McCain, Rosie O'Donnell and Megyn Kelly — three of the most beloved figures in the American pantheon, apparently — and what happens? Trump gets to the top of the polls.
The chattering classes are gnashing their whitened-for-TV teeth. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker and maybe even John Kasich are supposed to win this thing.
But Donald Trump, the Jed Clampett of the Republican Party? No way. Impossible.
The only reason he is doing well is that he is outrageous and entertaining and sucking up all the attention. Or so the theory goes.
If the other candidates could just get some of that same attention, they would rocket to the top.
So here comes the Iowa State Fair. The East Coast media always fall in love with the Iowa State Fair because they think deep-fried Twinkies on a stick are so gosh-darned Midwestern.
The Republican field showed up. And all the candidates had to do was moon a little for the cameras.
At the National Right to Life Convention in New Orleans in July, Rick Santorum had worn a dark suit and bellowed to the crowd, "When did it become the law of the land that the Supreme Court has the final say on everything?"
If anybody shouted back the correct answer — "1803, Marbury v. Madison" — it was drowned out by the thunderous applause Santorum got for asking the question.
At the Iowa State Fair a few days ago, Santorum had switched to bluejeans and a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, but he stuck with the stuff that worked. "When the Supreme Court is wrong, it's not the law of the land!" he shouted.
Cue the same crowd roar.
Santorum won the Iowa caucuses in 2012 and came in second nationally in the Republican race for the presidential nomination. Today a CNN poll shows him with 1 percent of the vote in Iowa, and a Fox News poll shows him with 1 percent of the vote nationally.
In other words, Santorum is dead meat. Deep-fry him and put him on a stick and still nobody would buy him.
Why? And why are the media darlings also in single digits?
It is a wonderment. Could it be that the analysts are out of touch with America as the polls indicate? No. Impossible.
Though it pains the analysts to say so, the polls must be wrong or meaningless or both.
The king of poll analysis, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver, wrote on Aug. 11 that national polls should be largely ignored. They "lack empirical power to predict the nomination" and also "describe a fiction."
What is nonfiction, according to Silver, is Silver.
Trump is "almost certainly doomed, sooner or later," Silver wrote on Aug. 6. "If you want absurd specificity, I recently estimated Trump's chance of becoming the GOP nominee at 2 percent."
And "sooner or later," Silver may be correct.
But in the meantime, Trump is having a wonderful time mooning America.
In a genuinely brilliant piece of political stagecraft, Trump arrived at the Iowa State Fair on Saturday in his 52-foot, 11-passenger, $7 million Sikorsky S-76B helicopter and offered children free rides in it.
As Thomas Lake of CNN reported, William Bowman, 9, and his brothers Sean, 6, and Brendan, 5, who live in a suburb of Des Moines, clambered aboard.
They were suitably amazed.
"Mr. Trump?" William said.
"Yes?" Trump said.
"Are you Batman?"
"I am Batman," Trump said.
Or else he's the Joker.
Roger Simon is Politico's chief political columnist. His new e-book, "Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America," can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.