John McCain and his minions did what they could — engineering the financial crisis through two decades of orgiastic deregulation, timed to allow John McCain to indefinitely postpone Sarah Palins debut-cle, throwing Gwen Ifill down the Exorcist steps in Georgetown, throwing the race card down when that didn't work — but the moment is finally (almost) upon us. Sarah Palin (and Joe Biden, like anyone's remembered him anyway) will step out on the stage at 9:00 ET tonight, and this live-blog will begin in earnest. Neither snow, nor rain, not heat, nor gloom of night will keep me from my appointed rounds — though a lack of alcohol might [I'm going out now to get the booze, Megan. -Ed.] , so while you guys cavort in the comment threads, I'll be getting dinner, padding my stomach and stretching my already-cramped fingers and meeting you back here then. Keep it as warm at the Palins' marital bed during an Alaskan winter for me while I'm gone! UPDATE: Oh, it's on.10:35 ET: Okay, folks, such as, I'm out of here. There's a whole 'nother bottle of wine I could be drinking and I don't want to waste any by spilling it on my keyboard. I'll see you in Crappy Hour tomorrow. 10:32 ET: Why the fuck didn't they turn their mikes off? And why is anyone talking over it?? 10:30 ET: Biden's all, the last 8 years have sucked, and there's a need for fundamental change and change isn't about more tax breaks and shit, like they define it. It's about keeping your houses, and getting an education and having health care and decency and some fucking respect. "It's time for America to get up together." Oooh, and then he ends with, "And, although it's selfish for both of us, may God protect our troops." So much better than Palin's. 10:28 ET: Palin likes to be able to answer tough questions WITHOUT A FILTER FROM THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA. Because Katie Couric made her look bad. Also, by the way, they're an "average" family. If I can repeat myself, the median household income in this country is $47,000 and she and Todd make about $250,000. Also, she makes an underhanded reference to Michelle Obama there. John McCain is the only person who has "ever fought for you" 10:28 ET: Back to taxes and energy, yawn. 10:27 ET: "You do what I did as governor and appoint people regardless of political affiliation" as long ad they're completely loyal friends of yours from way back, regardless of experience. 10:26 ET: How do you change the tone is Washington? Joe Biden knows, because he learned from Mike Mansfield and everyone goes, "Who is Mike Mansfield?" But also Joe doesn't question people's motives, just their judgment. 10:25 ET: Sarah Palin only regrets not vetoing budgets. She's never had to compromise on anything because she, um, compromises. Does she know what the word compromise means? 10:24 ET: Judicial ideology: Biden led the fight to kill Bork. And he did change on it. 10:23 ET: 8 mentions total from Biden right there. I might have to vomit. 10:22 ET: OH GOD NOW BIDEN HAS STARTED. Do I still have to drink if Biden is calling bullshit on the "Maverick" claim" 5...6...7 mentions. 10:21 ET: SHE SAID IT AGAIN! MY LIVER MIGHT NOT SURVIVE! 10:21 ET: Maverick! Drink! Fuck! I'm drunk! Stop saying it! 10:19 ET: Joe Biden's self-deprecating and it's sorta cute. Oh, and he'll put his record up against McCain. Oh, did he mention that he wrote the VAWA and McCain voted against it? Oh, and he was a widower. And he acknowledges that he's better off than most Americans, but, by the way, he's not that much better off than Sarah Palin. And then he almost breaks down remembering when Beau almost didn't survive and bites it back. 10:17 ET: Gwen asks what their real Achilles heels are. Sarah Palin says, I'm experienced! I'm a mom! I have kids! ENERGY! Also, she had a kid going to college... who was that? The eldest is going to Iraq and the other one is getting married. Also, she quotes Reagan, we're a beacon, we are an ideal. We're a force for good. John McCain's her partner. Wait, answer. 10:16 ET: "Vice Cheney has been one of the most dangerous Vice Presidents in the history of this nation." Fuck yeah he has. Also, then he calls bullshit on his legislative authority only when he can cast a tie vote and to not have to release records when Executive Privilege fails. 10:14 ET: Joe Biden calls out No Child Left Behind as an unfunded mandate! Take that Republicans! Plus Biden gets things done. Bitch is the new black, and Biden is the new bitch. 10:12 ET: They both all shit on the Vice Presidency, but Palin says no one got their jokes. No, I got it. They were just bad jokes. Wait, what? She wants the legislative branch to give her more power? 10:11 ET: Palin breaks out the cute bit. Doggone it. Jill Biden's reward is in heaven. FUCKING A, for real? Her pappy is there! She gives her brother's students extra credit for watching the debate and, fucking a, seriously, I know y'all like the TGIF posts but this shit is making my fucking teeth hurt. 10:10 ET: Joe Biden hangs out at Home Depot! I like the paint department. And I tend to buy a lot in the nails and screws aisle. No lie, but a funny line. 10:09 ET: "He's never asked me to check my opinions at the door." The Holmestead erupts in snickers. Then she says "Main Street" and we drink some more. 10:08 ET: "God forbid that would ever happen." AND THEN Maverick! Drink! 10:06 ET: Gwen asks about being a heartbeat away, given that they have different positions. Biden says "God forbid," but that he would carry out Obama's policies: health care, tax breaks, going to college, emergy policy, end war in Iraq, kill OBL and eliminate al Qaeda, engage allies, and would reject the Bush Doctrine of preemption and regime change and replace it with one of prevention." 10:05 ET: Sarah Palin's tossing her hair again and is all like, omg, the pundits on the news tomorrow are gonna pwn you! Such as. Then she reads a bunch of random talking points. 10:03 ET: "Oh, man, it's so obvious that I'm a Washington outsider, I don't understand the way you operate." And "Americans are craving that Straight Talk." Um, maybe John McCain should fire Steve Schmidt and try giving them some? ANd then she agrees with a no-fly zone in Darfur. And she would totally divest Alaska's funds invested in Darfur but, um, it hasn't passed yet. It's October. The legislature's out of session. It ain't gonna. I'm betting it makes some money. 10:02 ET: He suggests a nofly zone in Darfur? Fuck yeah. 10:01 ET: Spencer says this. Biden says other things, including "Bosniacs." 9:59 ET: Palin goes back to Afghanistan, and Joe Biden audibly sighs. Oh, wait, and she stops talking about the Surge in Afghanistan and starts talking counterinsurgency. That's just a leetle bit different, honey. Ask Spencer. I would, but I'm liveblogging. 9:58 ET: Biden is all, um, American commanders say we can't surge and we spend way more money in Iraq. Also, Biden points out that McCain voted against the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and other arms control regime. Then he talks about the Obama-Lugan nonproliferation bill. 9:57 ET: Um, so, Palin is all, it's so reckless to say that we're air-raiding and attacking villages, but we're not doing that! We're bringing democracy! And building schools! Once we're done bombing shit, but, shhhh, don't talk about that. 9:56 ET: "Bush Doctrine" question... without calling it that. When would you deploy them? Palin says to keep other people from getting them. And then brings up Kim Jong Il. Oh, and now she decided to bring up Afghanistan? But then she's all, bring the Surge to Afghanistan. 9:55 ET: "Past is prologue. How different is John McCain's policy is going to be than George Bush's." Ooh, check the repetition. 9:54 ET: Maverick! Drink! 9:54 ET: "Enough is enough with your ticket looking backward and playing the blame game." Oh, right! Let's not talk about how you guys ARE REPUBLICAN TOO AND SUPPORTED THE BUSH POLICIES. 9:52 ET: Joe Biden is the new Suede! Also, Biden and Obama love Israel. Oh, wait, he's all swimming laps around her on Hamas elections, Lebanon and Hezbollah. 9:51 ET: Palin backs a two-state solution in Israel. Israel. What the fuck is up with McCain-Palin saying "A Second Holocaust" all the time? Floridians? Bueller? 9:50 ET: Biden brings up the Spain gaffe! Booh-yah. 9:49 ET: Biden says 5 Secs of State say we should sit down and talk and all our allies. McCain says he'd go along with an agreement but not sit down. Also, debates = not the time to educate about diplomacy. 9:48 ET: THEY HATE OUR FREEDOMS. No, actually, they mostly just hate our asshole government. But Zadari would fuck you, so, like, hey, whatevs, I'm sure they won't use those nukes. 9:46 ET: Oh, so, on Pakistan and Iran, Palin says they're both dangerous but then starts talking about Iraq. Oh, and then it's all about Iran and Israel is in jeopardy from Ahmadenijad (who she calls "not sane or stable") and then she brings up Kim Jong Il (has nukes) and the Castro brothers (no nukes) and blah blah blah preconditions um HELLO Pakistan? Oh, right, they don't letcha talk about that anymore, such as Let's forget Pakistan have nukes. 9:45 ET: Pakistan and Iran time! Biden says they're both dangerous but Pakistan has deployed nukes and Iran wants them. Biden points out that the next attack is gonna come from al Qaeda in Pakistan/Afghanistan and he's right but, like, um, maybe we shouldn't talk about the "next attack." 9:44 ET: Sarah Palin is snotty about Obama on Iraq. Like, really snotty. Okay, for real, I'm pretty sure she's flipping through her index cards at the podium. "John McCain has been dead wrong on the fundamentals of the issues related to the war." Prolly shouldn't call the old guy "dead" anything. 9:42 ET: "Um... Your plan is a white flag of surrender." Plus, Obama doesn't believe the Surge worked and it will have worked when we've won, whenever that is. 9:41 ET: I'm a bad American. I lost his train of thought, too, but he did actually string sentences together in a string of logical 9:40 ET: Ok, seriously, I lost her train of though a minute ago. Biden didn't notice an actual answer about a plan for withdrawal, either. 9:39 ET: Foreign policy questions! Ifill is, like, soooo in the tank. 9:38 ET: Palin won't agree with Biden that what she just said was that there shouldn't be a distinction of the civil rights afforded homosexuals and straight people. But she doesn't support gay marriage, definitely. 9:38 ET: Biden and Obama don't support redefining marriage. Sigh. 9:37 ET: Palin says she wouldn't expand it to gays outside of Alaska because it might be too close to making it like a "real" marriage but she has GAY FRIENDS! So, you know, it's tolerant. And they wouldn't prohibit same-sex visits or same-sex contracts that look like marriage, except, you know, how the Republican party in Virginia pushed that shit through. 9:36 ET: Does Biden support granting same-sex benefits the way they do in Alaska? Biden says, fuck yeah! He then flubs and says "same sex marriage" instead of "domestic partnership." 9:35 ET: She mocks Biden for saying that clean coal isn't clean. It isn't. I lobbied (briefly) for the coal industry. There's a fucking reason they run so many happy-happy ads about it. 9:33 ET: Sarah Palin smiles and tosses her hair and grins and says "Dill, baby, drill." Then she's like, Alaska pipeline and people are hungry and she says "you even called offshore drilling 'raping the inner continental shelf'" with a smile. 9:32 ET: Biden is all like, Bish plz. We all know it's man made. Then he talks about things like investing in solar, clean coal and nuclear, plus exporting our energy. This is how you actually make points. "John McCain has voted 20 times... So I guess the only answer is 'drill, drill, drill'" 9:30 ET: Gwen, honey, why are you gonna ask her about energy? She's just gonna bring it up. Palin is all, we know about climate change because we're arctic! She makes a bunch of random statements about energy independence and such. I believe this is the bullshitting moment. It's all fucking talking points without a link between them. 9:28 ET: Palin still isn't going to talk about bankruptcy or mortgages. She's going to talk about energy. ENERGY MOTHERFUCKERS. THERE IS NO OTHER ISSUE!!!1!! 9:27 ET: The bankruptcy bill: Biden says it didn't effect the mortgage crisis. Um, you know, I actually know someone who's fucked over because of it. But Obama voted against it. Biden didn't because he's from Delaware. He thinks also that bankruptcy courts should be allowed to adjust both interest rates and principles. McCain supposedly doesn't support that, but Biden doesn't know. I do. He doesn't. Click to view 9:26 ET: "We have John McCain to thank for at least warning people." Oh, ok. Good to know he wasn't expected to be effective or anything. 9:24 ET: Palin denies that she or McCain won't keep every single fucking promise they made. Joe Biden snickers a little. Then he attacks her on the issues. John McCain wants a tax cut for the oil companies. Palin imposed a windfall profit tax on the oil comps — and that's what Biden and Obama want but John McCain opposes it. He wants her to convince McCain to help them on that. 9:22 ET: Obama says one thing in Scanton and another in San Francisco. Now she's not going to answer the question, and she's talking about energy and taking on the oil companies. She also said "Bless their hearts" about oil company executives. No, really, fuck those guys. 9:21 ET: Biden says they won't be able to double foreign aid and won't extend Bush's tax credits. Good answer. Then he says all the stuff they won't cut. 9:19 ET: By the way, Joe Biden makes that point. The average health care plan costs $12,000 and year, and 20 million people will lose their health insurance and have to use that $5,000 to buy something else. He calls that "the ultimate Bridge to Nowhere" and the audience laughs. 9:18 ET: Sarah Palin says that she'll give you a $5K tax credit will help you. Unless, of course, like 40% of Americans you make less than $45K a year and don't pay any income taxes, in which case you're fucked, completely, because it's not a fully refundable credit and they're going to pay for it by eliminating your employer's incentive to pay for your health insurance. In which case, then, you're exceptionally fucked. 9:17 ET: Sarah Palin says that Joe Biden saying that having the rich pay more taxes is patriotic isn't. She says she and Todd have always been "middle class." Oh course, median income in this country is $47,000 and they make $250,000, but whatevs. 9:16 ET: Joe Biden says, "None of the wealthy will pay any more taxes than they did under Ronald Reagan." Oh, snap! 9:15 ET: It is very strange to hear the words "class warfare" come out of Gwen Ifill's mouth. Really, really strange. Biden gives a good answer, actually, about the $250,000 limit on who will pay more and John McCain giving tax breaks to the rich and companies. Click to view 9:14 ET: Oh, Palin isn't going to fucking talk about health care! Fuck you America! Fuck you Biden! Fuck you, Gwen! She's going to talk about taxes! You don't need no stinking health care! 9:13 ET: Palin says that Obama would raise taxes on people that make $42,000 a year. Um, someone go check out the work of the Tax Foundation where I used to work, but the number of people that earn $42,000 a year and pay any federal income tax (not Social Security and Medicare) is really low. I used to know, actually, but I drink too much and they laid me off in 2007. 9:12 ET: Ifill offers Palin the chance to respond to Biden's point on health care, but she'd rather talk taxes. That's because McCain's health care "plan" sucks. But, hey, taxes! Barack Obama loves taxes! 9:11 ET: Biden points out that McCain is all about deregulating health care. 9:10 ET: Biden says Obama warned about the subprime crisis and John McCain didn't know there was an issue and wanted to deregulate more. Holy fuck, how many time is Biden going to say "regulate," "regulation" "deregulate" or "deregulation"? That can't be a drinking word or I will be admitted to the fucking ER tonight. 9:09 ET: Palin talked deception, predatory lending, greed and corruption on Wall Street. Neglects to mention any specific things to change it. But she does bring up Joe Six Pack and Hockey Moms so yay! And also, you need to make sure you don't need to be taken advantage of again and not spend so profligately. Click to view 9:08 ET: Palin brings up the whole talking point about how Washington needs a non-Washingtonian. Do Americans really buy that some guy that's been in D.C. for almost 30 years is an outsider? Really? 9:08 ET: "Maverick" mention! Drink up, drinky! 9:07 ET: Joe points out that McCain is out of touch because of his "fundamentals" comment. Palin says that means the workforce, not any pesky things like inflation or unemployment or whatever. 9:06 ET: Biden, if you're going to mention violence against women, you probs ought to bring up VAWA, you know, the bill you sponsored? 9:05 ET: Palin needs a fucking barometer to figure out whether this is a good economic time? And there's a fear that our retirement plans have taken a hit? But notice! She's a mom! At soccer games! What happened to hockey, honey? 9:04 ET: "Main Street." Drink! 9:03 ET: Bailout question. Joe calls Palin "Governor." Ooh, that's gonna be an interesting contrast, and not in Palin's favor. On the topic, Biden points out excess deregulation. We need oversight. 9:02 ET: They take the stage. Sarah blows kisses at Gwen, asks permission to call Biden "Joe." That isn't gonna work out well. 9:01: And Gwen Ifill has started! And strangely, her audio was about 5 seconds off her mouth moving for the first 30 seconds. We have decided we are uncommitted to CSPAN because it is not in HD 9:00 ET: The room has gone silent except for the person coughing BUT IT IS NOT ME. I am in New York and have a much manlier cough. 8:55 ET: Anna and I have tuned to the CSPAN feed because we have heard that there is a split feed so that we can watch Palin's and Biden's reactions. Said feed currently panning the audience without any audio. This is far less exciting than Keith Olbermann, I gotta say.