Plan on watching the first Republican presidential debate of the season? Tom hopes you are because it should be TV gold

Tonight, Thursday, Aug. 6, will be one of the greatest nights of summer television broadcasting in a non-Olympic year EVER! With only a scant 460 days before the next presidential election, we are going to be treated to the first Republican presidential debate. (It's only a coincidence that it's also the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.)

While there is a lot of stuff that you can binge-watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime, most of the broadcast material is weak this time of year. Denis Leary's show about an aging rock star is OK and it's kinda fun watching "Rizzoli and Isles" to see just how much weight Angie Harmon can lose before she finally turns inside out and becomes a wormhole to her former self. In the old days (like 2012), presidential politics didn't really kick in until the start of the election (and Olympic) year. But now with all that dark money floating around just waiting to be misspent, everybody wants to get a head start.

This political season is going to be different from the past. Tired of having their candidates embarrassed by tough questions, the Republican Party and Fox News (if you'll pardon the redundancy) have taken control of the process. From now on, the questions will run the gamut on the hardness scale all the way from beach ball to marshmallow. (Sample: Gov. Rick Perry, are you sure that you have your glasses on the right way?)

Some long-time readers say that I go out of my way to take shots at Republicans and I'll admit that it does sometimes tiptoe up next to my lifelong personal policy of never picking on the handicapped. But really, just look at this cast of characters. You've got a medical doctor, who is also African-American, comparing a health-care program that will save millions of lives from slavery. (That's in the tradition of the really-awful Supreme Court Justice who once compared being asked a few questions by United States Senators to a lynching.)

You've got a Jesus freak who claims to be the best friend of the Jews talking about walking people up to the ovens. (I'll bet Jews just love that kind of talk. It's like the self-proclaimed cool white guy who thinks it's okay to use the N-word.)

I'm actually drawn to the people bringing up the rear, those who, even this early in the process, have almost no chance of winning their party's nomination. Near the bottom is Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose "Hey, I'm sort of a minority and I went to a fancy college" schtick isn't catching on with the Republican base. (Gee, I wonder why.) I'm sorry, but if Jindal stooped over a little bit, he would look just like Dobby the House Elf from the "Harry Potter" movies. Somebody needs to throw that dude a sock so he can be free from the Republican Party.

Right near Jindal in the standings is Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the race. She first became famous for becoming the head of Hewlitt-Packard, one of the 20 largest companies in America. Through the sheer force of her will, she managed to cut the value of HP in half in just a few short years. She then tried to buy a U.S. Senate seat in California and when that didn't work, she decided to paint herself as the Republican who is best able to attack Hillary Clinton in a shrill and unproductive manner.

For Fiorina, the answer to the question "How do you make a small fortune in the tech business?" is "Start with a large fortune."

At the very bottom is South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is the hawk-iest hawk of all hawks. Unfortunately for him, the country (including a stunningly high percentage of Republicans) is war-weary. I think that his passion to bomb stuff can be traced to the fact that he has had to spend 60 years on this Earth with the name Lindsey (which is an Olde English term for "please kick my ass").

In the Really-Strange-But-True category is the fact that Lindsey Graham's late father's first name was Florence. That explains the Lindsey thing. The dad probably wanted to give his son a name that was really macho by comparison.

John Kasich is in the mix, but is probably running for vice-president. He's the governor of the swing state of Ohio and he'll try to convince the front-runner that he can deliver his home state. (John F. Kennedy, in 1960, was the last person to win the presidency without winning Ohio.) About the only thing interesting about Kasich is that he has been divorced.

I remember the old days when Republicans erected the fake Family Values platform on which to stand and glare down at others. Divorce was a big no-no back then until Ronald Reagan came along and then it was, "It's okay as long as you don't talk about it a lot."

I just wish I could ask one question to the people on stage. It would be, "In the years since President Obama was first elected during the Great Recession of 2008 (please note that I didn't refer to it as 'the Bush Recession'), how have your personal financial portfolios performed?"

That would be like turning on the light and watching the cockroaches scurry for cover.