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The Real Winners And Losers: 'America' Edition

Beer, conspiracies, and — wait — is Ted Cruz coming back?

Winners

Comity and Unanimity

Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee for president (we're not used to this; we'll never be used to it), and now he's getting together his general election coalition! You might recall that former leader of the KKK and current white supremacist David Duke endorsed Donald Trump for president a while back, saying that voting for anyone except Trump amounted to racial treason. A couple of weeks ago, Louis Farrakhan, leader of the black separatist religious organization Nation of Islam, did basically the same. While talking on paranoid anti-government conspiracy theorist Alex Jones's web show, Farrakhan said he admired Trump's candor and independence from the GOP money machine, and expressed support for Trump's proposed ban on allowing Muslims into the United States (yeah, we know).

It's perfectly natural for Farrakhan and Duke to back the same guy, given that they both (a) think the races should be kept separate, and (b) hate Jews. The Nation of Islam has also gotten all cuddly with white supremacists before. But the fact that it's "natural" isn’t comforting, in the same way that it being "natural" for the human species to go extinct or for a meteor to slam into our wretched planet and end the horrible charade of "Planet Earth" isn’t comforting.

People Who Miss the Debates

Oh wait, you exist? That’s funny, I was just making a joke about how no one misses watching our new presumptive Republican nominee show his support for the cause of Adjective Awareness on a stage next to Reagan’s plane, but there you are hiding behind the sofa, watching sad Vines of Jeb Bush getting excited about his dad-level burns. Anyway, I have good news for you. The Libertarian Party’s presidential primary — which features former governor Gary Johnson and John McAfee — is still in debate mode. And for those judging debates by sheer entertainment value, these do not disappoint. One featured an unexpected kiss. The next one will be hosted by Penn Jillette. It will, of course, be held in Las Vegas. Yes, we also just realized that the one thing that the 2016 election was missing was magicians.

Conspiracy Theorists

As the New York Times reminded us Tuesday, Hillary Clinton is pro-extraterrestrial transparency. She hasn’t been asked too many questions about her space platform this cycle, so it is unclear how she feels about sharing any future email correspondence she might have with aliens, whether as-of-yet-unknown alien sources of energy would be a useful addition to her renewable-energy platform, or how she feels about Bill Pullman’s beard in the Independence Day sequel trailer. Her campaign manager did write the foreword for a book called UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record, though, and Hillary’s said that she plans to spill the beans about Area 51 if elected, but will ONLY do so IF it wouldn’t be a threat to national security.

This is an incredible win-win situation for people who believe the government is covering up aliens. If Hillary does release the files, then they'll have more material to use to construct hypotheses about what aliens want with us and when They will be coming to take us away. On the other hand, since Hillary said that the only reason she wouldn't release the files is national security, if she doesn’t release them, this will be tantamount to admitting that there's actually some kind of vast government cover-up happening. It's perfect.

So this could be the closest we’ve come to learning whether aliens exist since that time Dennis Kucinich talked about seeing a UFO during a debate, and/or it could be the closest we've come to figuring out what kinds of dark esoterica the government has been up to for the past half-century. (A YouGov poll from last fall showed that 54 percent of Americans supposedly believe that there is intelligent life out there besides Matt Damon. A CNN poll from 1997 showed that 93 percent of Americans have never been abducted by aliens — and don’t know anyone else who was, either. It’s unclear what happened to the other 7 percent.)

Keith Judd

During the 2012 Democratic primary in West Virginia, Keith Judd was in a Texas prison on charges of "mailing threats at the University of New Mexico," per the Dallas Morning News. He also won 41 percent of the vote against Barack Obama, thanks to voters so angry at the president about coal and national politics that they’d vote for anyone else — even someone they had never heard of before. Judd is now out of prison, and he’s running again. (The perennial candidate also got on the ballot in a few other states, including Texas, where he received 0.2 percent of the vote.) He’s been campaigning in West Virginia this year — a novel concept for him — but his chances of being a spoiler were thwarted by the Democrats in the state finding someone else they like better than Barack Obama: Bernie Sanders. When the AP called up a local historian to ask about Judd, he laughed and added, "What's different this time is, a majority of West Virginians are familiar with Judd." He didn’t break 2 percent this year.

Regardless, it seems likely that we’ll see him again in 2020. According to his profile on VoteSmart, he might already know more about that race than we do; his special talents supposedly include bowling a perfect 300 game and telling the future.

Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

Losers

#NeverTrump

Pundit and columnist Bill Kristol, founder of conservative political magazine The Weekly Standard, is deeply unhappy that Donald Trump is now the public face of the right in the United States. He not only has been calling for a third-party run, but has been hinting that he's working behind the scenes to try to make it happen. That's all the context you need in order to see why this tweet is so incredibly sad.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz has clearly not made peace with his decision to exit the presidential race in the face of Donald Trump barricading the path to the nomination by winning Indiana. Cruz has been floating the idea that he would reanimate his suspended campaign if he won Nebraska. It's not quite the equivalent of throwing a punch after tapping out — suspending a campaign is not the same thing as ending it, and candidates sometimes revive temporarily suspended campaigns — but it's still pretty hilarious. Reading the tea leaves of his popularity to make decisions is antithetical to the whole idea of Ted Cruz, who has built his reputation on calling his Republican colleagues cowards and scoundrels for making tactical decisions about which Democratic policies to spend their political capital opposing. Somewhere, John Boehner must be smoking a cigar and smiling.

Heidi Cruz

Heidi has also not been taking the loss very well, comparing her husband's presidential run to the struggle to end slavery on American soil.

Needless to say, the two situations are ... quite different. Attempting to create an analogy between them was, uh, foolish. That's obvious. But you'll also note that Heidi Cruz says that it took 25 years to end slavery. We sent this tweet to the MTV Wonk Room to work out why she thinks that people were fighting to end slavery for only 25 years, and they couldn't come up with anything. The MTV Wonk Room has been largely useless this election cycle, to be honest. There’s another maligned group to throw in the losers column: Wonks!

The Person Who Will Be Trump’s Running Mate

Trump said on Tuesday that he’s narrowed down the list to five or six people, all politicians. That means that someone who wanted to have a long political career will have to run alongside a talking Waldorf word salad with extra mayonnaise. In the next edition of Roget’s Thesaurus, one of the synonyms for "loser" will be "the person who has to run with Donald Trump in 2016." Even if the ticket won, this person would be stuck working with Trump for four years. On all federal buildings in the entire country, their portrait would be placed right next to Trump’s. The only solace would be the memoir he or she would one day write revealing everything that happened this election cycle. Sorry, no, they won’t even be able to do that, because Donald Trump will live-tweet every single thing that happens. On the bright side, newspaper reporters and lumberjacks can take comfort in the fact that neither will be named the worst job in America next year.

"America"

Anheuser-Busch has announced that it’s changing the name of its flagship beer, Budweiser, to "America" for the summer. Honestly, I'm not sure who loses more in this experiment in nonconsensual co-branding. On the one hand, "America" as a brand has seen better days — the name change will coincide with Donald Trump running for president, and not from the fringes as a quirky third-party candidate, but as the nominee of the Republican Party. Then again, Budweiser (I'm told) is watered-down swill that owes its durable popularity to name recognition and seared tastebuds. So actually, maybe it's kind of an appropriate marketing gimmick — who knows.