“The thing about America, is that it is without walls. You can get almost anywhere if you insist upon it. There are no credentials for [talk-show hosting]. There’s no kind of credentials to be president! Except age and place of birth. It’s kind of a low bar. I hope that next time people go to the polls they vote for the guy who can read rather than the guy they’d rather have a beer with.” — Real Time‘s Bill Maher talking to Time‘s Ana Marie Cox.

Wells response: As Maher knows, red-state cultural conservatives — particularly the religious types — have pretty much one goal in mind when they vote for President, which is get a person into the White House who will uphold and reaffirm right-thinking, God-fearing cultural and religious values in this country, and thereby help to stop the once-great U.S. of A. from sliding into the crawling green swamp of liberal anything-goes values, the most odious of these being (a) gay marriage, (b) stem-cell research and pro-choice, and (c) buying into the “myth” of global warming (which, if it really catches on, will keep hard-working people from burning all the fossil fuels and punching as big a hole in the Ozone layer as they damn well please, because it’s their absolute God-given right as free Americans to destroy the world if they so choose).

That is why so many red-state Mensas out there use the “Dating Game”criteria. They’re interested in what kind of person the candidate is deep down. Does he/she a reasonably modest and humble sort? Does he/she believe in a higher power? Is he/she decent, compassionate, folksy? Does he/she understand and empathize with the values of regular working people as opposed to the rich blue-state elites? This is why Barack Obama may have a real chance — because he’s very sincere and dug in on the Christianity-God stuff, and because he doesn’t radiate effete east-coast power-broker vibes.

Of course, many in the rural red-state genius camp are suspicious of people of non-Anglo pigmentation and couldn’t possibly vote for a President whose middle name is Hussein. “What’s in a name?” William Shakespeare once wrote. “That which we call a rose would smell as well by any other name.” I don’t keer whut yuh say — I ain’t votin for no guy with a name like that to run this country.