By Benjamin Svetkey
Updated May 20, 2011 at 11:27 PM EDT
Credit: William B. Plowman/NBC

This week, the Republican race for the White House went from being a reality show to a Matt Groening cartoon. Exit Donald Trump, enter Newt Gingrich, the Homer Simpson of conservative American politics.

After announcing his candidacy via Twitter last week, Gingrich began this week by enraging his own base with an appearance on Meet the Press, during which he blasted Paul Ryan’s Medicare-killing federal budget proposal — the one virtually every House Republican voted in favor of — as “right-wing social engineering.” D’oh! Then he went to Iowa to shake hands with the locals and got caught on camera being belittled by a disgruntled Republican voter. “You’re an embarrassment to our party,” the heckler told the ex-Speaker of the House, suggesting he get out of the race “before you make a bigger fool of yourself.” D’oh! A few days later, Gingrich was indeed made to look like an even bigger fool when he got “glittered” by a confetti tossing gay activist at a book signing in Minneapolis. D’oh! And then, just yesterday, back in Iowa, Gingrich made the mistake of leaving his cell phone on during a campaign stop. His ring tone — no joke, ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” — may well be the last straw for some voters (except for maybe that gay activist). D’oh again!

Sadly, the previews for next week’s episode of Real Republican Hopefuls of Washington D.C. doesn’t look nearly as entertaining. Tim Pawlenty, a politician with all the charisma of a substitute math teacher, is scheduled to officially throw his hat in the ring. But there is some hope: Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann has been hinting that she might enter the campaign even earlier than expected. She could single-handedly turn the race from a cartoon sitcom into a Twilight Zone episode. We can’t wait — but what about you Pop Watchers? What did you think of this week’s installment?

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