So, it appears the Republican Senate candidate in Ohio flew to a meeting of “faith leaders” in a plane owned by a Cleveland strip club owner.

I am telling you this just to cheer you up. The world of politics has been pretty fraught lately, and today we’re going to try to be cheery and just talk about good old-fashioned weirdness and stupidity.

Such as Rep Jim Renacci’s decision to travel to campaign events — including a “meet & greet … with local faith leaders” — in a plane owned by the proprietor of the Peek-a-Boo club in Cleveland. The congressman said the owner, whom we will call Mr Peek, is a campaign volunteer. “I’m not going to vet volunteers,” Renacci told an Ohio news site.

Well, we would hope that all our candidates do a little bit of vetting when it comes to air safety. But the best thing about this story is that it has nothing whatsoever to do with Donald Trump. Who recently suggested that when we’re contemplating the coming elections we should “think of it as the same thing as me.”

OK, he’s probably right. But that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve a little political diversion.

For instance, you’ve probably heard about Rep Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, who is a heavy favourite for re-election even though he’s been the subject of an attack ad made by six of his siblings.

“It’s intervention time, and intervention time means … you go to vote Paul out,” says one brother in the ad for Gosar’s opponent, which is titled “A Family Defends Its Honor.” I can’t tell you this has really made a difference; the polls suggest Gosar is still going to win. However, it could be a useful citation during your next family argument. (“Well, at least I never made an attack ad against you!”)

I am sorry to report that Florida Republicans have let us down and nominated a Spanish-language TV star, Maria Elvira Salazar, for Congress in a district where one of the other candidates was a businesswoman whose résumé included having been kidnapped by space aliens.

Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera did actually have a lot of assets, including a career as a local councilwoman and a strong record of helping other women run for office. On the other side, you had the fact that she told reporters that when she was 7 she was beamed aboard a spaceship and met visitors from another galaxy, with whom she communicates telepathically. But nobody’s perfect.

And this week we had the Taylor Swift story! Even people who do not know the name of their current member of Congress know that Swift has endorsed former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen for the Senate. After a career in which she’s avoided saying anything much about politics, Swift popped up with the announcement that she’s voting for Bredesen because his Republican opponent, Rep Marsha Blackburn, has a voting record that “appalls and terrifies me.”

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I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! ???

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Swift had in mind things like opposition to the Violence Against Women Act. But Blackburn lives on in my memory as the House member who once gave a vigorous denunciation of a bill raising energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans. In which speech, she appeared to paraphrase a famous Holocaust poem about fear and apathy. (“First they came for our health care. Then they took away our light bulbs … now they are coming after our ceiling fans.”)

Celebrities endorsing candidates is not normally all that big a deal — Trump himself has a number of entertainers on his bandwagon, from Kanye West to Tila Tequila. It is a venerable tradition that dates back to 1920, when Al Jolson announced his support for Warren Harding.

But Swift’s announcement was a little more dramatic than the usual singer-supports-candidate Instagram post, since she hadn’t said anything about her political preferences until now. This void apparently allowed white supremacists who saw her as a beautiful Aryan goddess to decide she was one of them.

Also, they thought she let them name her cat. It’s sort of a long story, but the moral is that if you are an extremely popular singer and you buy a pet, try to make sure no alt-right website runs a Name the Cat contest. Otherwise, you could both wind up picking the same name, and next thing you know they’ll be under the impression you’re going to vote for Marsha Blackburn.

When Trump learned about the endorsement he announced he likes Taylor Swift “25 percent less now.” This was the most mystifying presidential remark of the week. Why not 100 percent? When Lisa Murkowski voted against the Kavanaugh nomination, Trump did not say he thought a quarter of her constituents would be really ticked off. No, he decreed that “the people from Alaska will never forgive her for what she did.” I would hate to think the difference is only about Murkowski not being a 28-year-old blond superstar.

Trump is a Marsha Blackburn supporter — in fact, he was just in Tennessee for a rally in which she was actually permitted to come on stage and talk for three minutes. “A vote for Marsha is really a vote for me,” he told the crowd.

See? Bring back the space aliens and the strip club owners.

© 2018 New York Times News Service

Gail Collinsis a New York Times Op-Ed columnist. She writes about American politics and culture.

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