The crowded 2016 race for the White House has turned into one of the most bizarre presidential contests in U.S. history. Consider this:
Former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination, is caught up in a widening scandal that has drawn the scrutiny of the FBI, forcing her to sign a statement "under penalty of perjury" that she has turned over all of her official emails to the government.
Republicans say she has withheld some of the emails she sent on her private computer system that contained classified materials that are now being vetted by the State Department and examined by government investigators.
Within the past year, the scandal and a raft of related issues about whether her closest aides had also used her secret email server -- and whether those emails dealt with classified issues.
Later this year, in the midst of her campaign, she will be giving sworn testimony to the House Select Committee that is investigating her handling of the fiery 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including our ambassador.
Committee members are particularly interested in the emails Clinton was sending and receiving prior to and after the attacks.
Why didn't the State Department provide the security at the consulate as the ambassador demanded? Why did the department, immediately after the attacks, hastily put out a statement, explaining that it was the result of a wild protest rally that had gotten out of hand?
A spokesman for the department said last week that 34 of some 2,000 emails from Clinton's private server dealt with classified information. Almost all these emails were redacted to some extent.
This is the dangerous political environment in which Clinton will be campaigning in in the coming months, while her polling numbers are tumbling, and while Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders, her chief rival, is drawing larger crowds, numbering in the 10,000 range or higher.
The campaign is getting messier and nastier over in the Republican race where bombastic real estate tycoon Donald Trump is the GOP's front-runner and the party's biggest embarrassment.
The TV celebrity provocateur, who has an ego the size of the Grand Canyon, made national headlines with his counterattack in last week's debate on Fox News – when Megyn Kelly asked this question:
"You've called women you don't like 'fat pigs," 'dogs," "slobs" and "disgusting animals," adding that he once told a contestant on 'Celebrity Apprentice' that it would be pretty picture to see her on her knees. “Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who is likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the 'war on women'?"
In the aftermath of the debate, in an interview on CNN, Trump called Kelly a "lightweight," accusing her of going after him in the debate with "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever."
That attack, presumably suggesting a woman's period, made front page news across the country.
He turned his candidacy into a sideshow and then he became the center of attention. But it hasn't seemed to hurt him. His approval polls rose this week to 24.3 percent on average, well above his nearest rival, Jeb Bush, whose polling average was 12.5 percent, according to the Real Clear Politics website.
Still, nearly 63 percent were supporting one of the other GOP candidates.
Still, hard as it may be to believe, Trump has a number of troubles to deal with. Like his outrageous boasts that as a successful businessman, he alone knows about to put the government's debt-ridden, fiscal house in order.
The Club for Growth, a conservative organization that has made a big name for itself by bankrolling GOP primary challengers against Republican big spenders, shot that one down this week.
"Trump corporations have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on four separate occasions, including a 2009 filing that came after missing a $53 million bond interest payment," the Club said last week.
"This sounds like the worst of Washington politicians: Trump is proud that he made money from filing bankruptcies that cost thousands of jobs for Americans," said Club for Growth president David McIntosh.
"That's a terrible track record for a man who would inherit a massive national debt that will need to be addressed immediately in January 2017. The last thing we need is Donald bankrupting the United States," McIntosh said.
Trump has had a long reputation for playing both sides of the aisle. But his slippery shell game rhetoric couldn't hide his two timing political past.
He called Hillary Clinton "terrific" in the 2007 campaign and said he hoped she would get the nomination in 2008. In 2012, he said "Hillary Clinton is a terrific woman… I really like her and her husband both a lot. I think she works hard… and I think she does a good job."
According to the Club for Growth, Trump has given big political donations to Hillary. The global Clinton Foundation website lists Trump as a major donor who has dished out between $100,000 and $250,000.
He's bankrolled the campaigns of Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, New York Sen. Charles Schumer, and New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, all of whom helped enact Obamacare.
McIntosh put it best when he said, "Trump has a knack for playing both sides of any issues just like the worst of Washington politicians."
This is turning into quite a campaign. Hillary can't tell the truth and the Donald is one of her biggest supporters.