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YouTube, Part Two

The return of the talking snowman? It’d be fitting in the holiday season.

That is one of the more trivial matters at play as CNN and YouTube host the latest edition of their presidential debates tonight, with users submitting some 5,000 questions and producers expected to pare them down to a few dozen. After some initial reluctance, the GOP field will take the stage in St. Petersburg, Fla.,  with the expectation that (snowman or not) they will be thrown for a few loops.

You may recall that the appearance of Billiam, the talking snowman, in the Democratic debate in July (he asked a question about global warming), seemed to scare Mitt Romney out of participating. He called such a spectacle undignified, but later agreed to participate. Here’s Billiam’s response:

What are they in for this time? Well, the field can probably expect a bigger audience, as the ratings for debates in general have been on the rise as the election nears. And Billiam has inspired all sorts of questions submitted from stuff talking animals and animated depictions of Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. Thomas Jefferson’s portrait asks how they are going to respond to the legalization of marijuana.

I found the July debate a refreshing change from the otherwise staid forums so far in the year. With so many debates on the schedule, there certainly can be no worry about wasting one of these events on various gimmicks. As for actual substance, much will depend tonight on which questions are picked and which are not.

Like the Democrats, will the GOP candidates be challenged on their opposition to gay marriage? Former baseball star Billy Bean submitted this query — asking candidates whether they would discourage people from using their religious beliefs to justify discrimination against gays (Bean is one of the few Major League players to come out).  Kirk Douglas asks about education. And this one from Nicholas Giles of San Diego is this query that is perhaps uniquely suited for the Republican field — what is their interpretation of the Second Amendment? (If it’s asked, expect Fred Thompson to mention his Black Friday visit to a gun store.) A roundup of questions here.

And Danny in Abilene, Texas, challenges the candidates on their technical proficiency: Do you know where a computer’s full screen button is?

By the way, Douglas, his voice slurred by a stroke, has taken to YouTube, and submitted this video after the last debate, in which he suggests an apology to African-Americans for slavery “accompanied by a Marshall Plan in all of Africa.”

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