Once upon a time, back in the early, innocent days of the 2008 campaign, idle political reporters spent their free time handicapping which presidential candidate had the best hair. (Answer: Romney, Edwards.)
But now, in the wake of John Edwards' $400 haircut-gate, we waste our time trying to figure out which candidates got the best bang for their haircut buck. Down in South Carolina last weekend, I employed my most superficial journalistic instincts to uncover the two candidates who are running neck and neck for the crown.
The first contender is Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, who takes pride in his modest tipping habits. "I got one this week," he said in Spartanburg, S.C., on Saturday. "They charged me 12 bucks. Same guy, in Topeka, Kan. And I gave him a $2 tip, so a $14 haircut."
Another reporter then asked the obvious follow-up. "You didn't go for the whole $15?"
"Yeah, I didn't want to spoil him too much," Brownback responded. "And I'm afraid he is going to start reading about these haircuts in other places and say, 'You know buddy, I need some more money on this.'"
The second contender is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who probably beats Brownback because his barber has a cool name. "Usually about 15 bucks," Huckabee said on Friday night in Spartanburg. "I go to Town and Country barbershop in Little Rock, right across from UALR," the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
"It's in a little strip shopping center. My barber is a bald-headed barber named 'Speed.' I tell him every time I see him, 'Why should I get a haircut from a guy that's baldheaded? You don't eat at a place with a skinny chef. Why should I go to a baldheaded barber?'
"He first cut my hair when I was a student in college 35 years ago. Then of course I moved away and wasn't there for a long time. But when I moved back to Little Rock, he was still in business ... I keep thinking one of these days he will get it right."
It should be noted, for the record, that neither man has a very impressive head of hair.