Carl Paladino is a Democratic plant.
That's the only possible explanation. He's hijacked the entire election. Nobody in New York has any idea who's even running against Kirsten Gillibrand, the David Paterson appointee to the Senate who was regarded as a very shaky proposition at the beginning of the year.
Nobody in New York has any idea that Senator Charles Schumer is up for re-election.
The Republican under-ticket is known only as three guys whose names come after Carl Paladino's on the ballot. In a year when a great red tide is threatening to drown the country, New York gets bluer every day.
Anywhere the New York election is under discussion, whether it's in Queens or Quebec, the only thing anybody knows is that a crazy guy is running for governor. Against... who was it? Oh yeah, Andrew Cuomo.
There was a time when we worried that Cuomo might try to stay hidden in the Attorney General's office until the leaves turn. Now, we'll be lucky if he comes out to vote. Why bother? Paladino is taking care of everything for him.
"I am neither perfect nor a career politician," the Buffalo developer e-mailed this week. It was part of a long, rambling official statement in which he tried to explain the gay-bashing debacle. Like almost everything that comes out of that campaign, it sounded as if it had been written by an underperforming college sophomore after two days without sleep and a bottle of tequila.
Let's consider last weekend. The Paladino campaign falls in with a Brooklyn rabbi with a following of about 20, who, the Times reported, had a dream of creating an "Orthodox Tea Party." They go to an event organized by this incredibly influential person, where the rabbi hands Paladino what the candidate calls "a script" which urges that children not be "brainwashed into thinking homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option - it isn't."
Which he reads. And which is distributed to the press corps. (The rest of the nation is worried that the dwindling number of reporters has left their big elections virtually uncovered. No such problem in New York when Carl's campaigning.)
During the ensuing outcry, Paladino keeps demanding to know why he isn't getting credit for the worse anti-gay stuff he cut out. Then he lashes out at Andrew Cuomo for taking his kids to a gay pride parade. It seemed almost unsurprising when the Daily News reported that Paladino had collected rent on two gay bars in Buffalo, including one that was run by his son.
That was our most recent election news cycle, following the one in which Paladino bought time to tell us that when it came to sex, Cuomo's "prowess is legendary." Which followed the dust up with the New York Post reporter. Which of course came after the love child revelations.
On Columbus Day, more than 20 reporters chased Paladino down the parade route, trying to get another sex-drenched soundbite.
Next week we will have a gubernatorial debate featuring, at Carl's insistence, a raft of minor candidates, one of whom claims to be the madam who supplied Eliot Spitzer with his hookers.
There is virtually no candidate in the country who could not win running against this guy. Even the Nazi impersonator in Ohio could probably beat him. And he's going as good a job as humanly possible of taking every other Republican in the state down with him.
Could that all be an accident? I don't think so. I'm going with an opposition mole. Carl Paladino may be the only Democratic election strategy that works this November.