Mike Carlson/AP Images
January 19, 2012 at 06:50 PM EST

Rick Perry suspended his presidential campaign today, telling a South Carolina audience that his candidacy had “no viable path forward” and endorsing rival Newt Gingrich. After rocketing to the top of the Republican polls and being heralded as the second coming of Ronald Reagan, the Texas governor imploded in the spotlight with repeated self-inflicted gaffes. Drawing only 6 percent in recent South Carolina polls — that’s Stephen Colbert territory, hoss — Perry had become a living, breathing parody of the slick Southern yee-haw Republican pol.

He now joins Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and Jon Huntsman in Republican Exile Island — better there than his notoriously nicknamed family hunting grounds in Texas. But before he moseys into the sunset, let’s take a look at the man who almost made us forget Howard Dean’s yell.

Perry’s debate criticism of Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping sounded much different in his head:

An exuberant Perry slips into surfer-cowboy speak:

Perry forgets the third department of government he so wants to shut down:

Perry does damage-control on Letterman:

Perry fails civics class:

Perry throws a Hail Mary with an antigay commercial that panders to the religious right:

Read more:

South Carolina Republican debate: Wild, jeering crowd

Michele Bachmann drops out

Rick Perry ‘Strong’ parodies

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