Illustration by Jason Polan
Illustration by Jason Polan

Welcome to the YouNews/Mama Belle’s Quality Country Inn All You Can Eat Buffet Republican Primary Debate. From the Belle Vue Room, Route 2, Plainfield, U.S.A. Your moderator is Sherm Willinson, YouNews Web designer and blogger and Mama Belle’s food and beverage manager.

SHERM: Gentlemen, let’s begin the debate. You know the rules. See what you can get away with. We’ve asked the audience to stay silent throughout the debate, except when Speaker Gingrich has the floor. Governor Romney, let’s begin with you. What did you think of the buffet?

MITT ROMNEY: I loved it, Sherm. And so did my beautiful wife, our five sons and five daughters-in-law and our 165 grandkids and their spouses. You know, this is breakfast in America. And America is an All You Can Eat Buffet, or rather, should be. This president wants us all to eat gruel -- the very same gruel. And he wants to take the Mama Belle’s fine maple-sweetened turkey off my plate and give it to you. Now I’m happy to share it with you, Sherm, and as you saw on my tax returns I share a lot of my good fortune, which I’m not ashamed of, with the many less fortunate among us. And I’ll continue to do that and more, which is why it’s imperative that we keep charitable contributions deductible. But, Sherm, not every American can afford to participate in a full buffet. Now the speaker, I noticed, went up to the buffet the first time with a small plate, suggesting he might just participate in a more modest, less costly option of cold cereal and fruit. Well, sure enough, he came back with the same small plate and helped himself to the more expensive hot service area. That’s a violation of ethics. I don’t mislead people, Sherm. I don’t promise one thing and then do another. That’s corruption and fraud, and that leads to far worse things that are dangerous to our country. I don’t do that. The speaker does.

NEWT GINGRICH: I’m not going to address the factual untruths in the governor’s appallingly false accusations. That’s frankly a complete waste of my time. The governor might think himself a keen observer, but he has his history fundamentally incorrect. The fact is, and this can be seen as of tomorrow morning in the motel’s digital confirmation, which will be posted on our campaign website, is that we prepaid the full buffet at the time of our advance booking (APPLAUSE) and unlike the governor, and out of respect and in deference to the overworked and underpaid undocumented alien dishwashers in the back (APPLAUSE), who are afraid under this president to register so that they can earn a decent wage and maybe someday participate openly and freely in what Ronald Reagan poignantly called the American Buffet, I decided to use only one plate for everything. (APPLAUSE) Now that may not appeal to an elitist, moderate from Massachusetts with his own “Epic of Gilgamesh” for a personal tax return, a second home in New Hampshire and an ATM in the Cayman Islands (APPLAUSE) but to suggest to someone who balanced the buffet four years in a row that those green, crescent-shaped, soggy, fetid things near the sour cream were fruit is as close to despicable as anything I’ve ever tasted. (APPLAUSE)

RICK SANTORUM: Once again I have a very different perspective. My wife and I have somewhere close to a dozen kids or so, and we can’t afford to take the whole bunch of them to an All You Can Eat Buffet whenever we just feel like it. We’re staying up the road at a campsite and cooking our own breakfast over an open fire, like most Americans do every single morning. Before the debate, I had a chance to talk to Midge over there, who works as a housemaid here at the Quality Country Inn, and she told me she’s never been to the buffet either. Not only can she not afford it, but she works on Sundays. Well, that’s simply not fair. As president, I would make sure that we had guaranteed buffet accessibility for every working American. And another thing: I think most Americans are offended when they see a buffet table that has both mother and child offered up together. Every life is uniquely precious. And to see eggs served on the same buffet with poultry is simply tragic and unacceptable. Every egg should have the opportunity to grow into a full-size happy chicken. And every chicken should be able to lay an egg knowing that egg will be able to realize the same dream that chicken had.

RON PAUL: Look, the problem isn’t the buffet. The problem is the reason they have the buffet in the first place. If markets were allowed to stay open on the weekends, then restaurants would be able to get fresh deliveries every day and wouldn’t have to liquidate their old inventories every Sunday under a disguise of being something special with a fancy name. Newt’s right. That honeydew was horrible. But it’s no surprise, because it’s out of season and old and from South America. We need to get out of South America’s business. These stupid displays of excess all just lead to bubbles. I’m a doctor. Look at the size of people who go to buffets. And we wonder why we have obesity problems in this country. You have to open the markets, balance the inventories and let people decide what they want to do and stop all the wars and audit the Fed and go back to the gold standard and stop printing money and then people will be free and successful and that will solve all your problems. That’s what the founders wanted. The founders of this buffet just want to get rid of their old food before they have to turn it into soup. And I like soup. Don’t get me wrong! And get rid of the debt, too.

ROMNEY: You know, Sherm, when I was in the private sector, we had a more efficient name for All You Can Eat Buffets. We called them AYCEBs. And you know what? They work. The congressman is wrong again for a change. I’ve turned hotel chains around that were on the verge of total bankruptcy by introducing AYCEBs to their business plan. I know how business works. When I was governor we had more people go through AYCEBs weekly than any other state. And I’ll tell you something else. If this president would stop discouraging people from going to Las Vegas, and maybe even go there himself, he might see a third way, Sherm. In Nevadan AYCEBs, you can elect a more expensive option that allows you to avoid the long line. That makes sense. The buffet establishment benefits from the extra profit and for the individual that decides, freely, as the congressman rightfully suggests, on spending his or her own extra hard-earned capital to avoid a two- or three-hour wait in line, well, I think that’s great. That’s capitalism. I understand capitalism. And I know how to avoid waiting in line.

SHERM: Gentleman, I’m afraid we’re out of time as we have to clear the room and set up for this evening’s AYCEB. Thank you and good morning from Plainfield.

(Rick Moranis is a writer and actor who lives in New York City. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Read more opinion online from Bloomberg View.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net.