Like a lot of the other writers here, I’ve had my share of fun taunting the Republican Party over its apparently unsolvable dilemma of precisely who among its cast of prominent narcissists, hucksters, and hacks to nominate for the White House in 2012.

Today, the proverbial rubber (if evangelical readers will forgive my choice of terminology) began to meet the road at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference organized by famed ’90s religio-political grifter Ralph Reed.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that

… running for the GOP presidential nod … means subjecting yourself to the crossfire of multiple litmus tests, struggling to differentiate yourself from your competitors even as you all pander to the same interest groups, practicing your dog-whistle techniques… in short, advertising your unlimited affection for the fiercest lunacies of your party’s base (a group with more collective resentments than common sense) while trying to simultaneously hide it from any sane voters who may be watching.

Pseudo-”responsible” candidates like Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman tried to walk this awkward tightrope in their speeches before the conference today.  (According to the Washington Post, Huntsman got through his address to the crowd of religious activists without mentioning that he is a Mormon.  Gee, I wonder if any of his prospective opponents will let the primary campaign go by without reminding them?)

Unsurprisingly, though, the day’s most popular speaker didn’t do anything to hide that she was “ten steps into the crazy,” to quote David Bowie’s lyric (see video above).  As ABC News reports:

Who wowed the social conservative crowd at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference this weekend? Several attendees told ABC News they were smitten by Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Bachmann’s speech early in the day drew multiple standing ovations and rounds of cheers from the crowd, leaving many with the hope that she’ll run in 2012.

And Bachmann seems to be hearing the cash regis — um, I mean the voices of her supporters, as the Post’s reporter notes:

An evangelical Christian, Bachmann spoke last week of a calling to run for president. She told Iowa Public Television that she feels “a tugging on my heart that it is the right thing to do.”

(Translated out of moral posturing-ese, I think this means, “I wanna get me some of that Sarah Palin money!”)

Which just goes to show you… give crazy people a choice between a real fellow nutcase and a bunch of people pretending to be nutcases, and they’ll choose the real one every time.  Or something like that.