The first Presidential election I remember is the 1968 election. I was in second grade for most of that year (the actual election came when I was in third grade, my year as a "playah"-- more on that another time). It was a weird year-- my second grade teacher was sick, so she would teach for short stints, and leave. We had a succession of subs who slowly lost control, until a very strict sub, Mrs. Never (I'm not making this up) came in and straightened us out.
We had our little rhymes: "Humphrey, Humphrey, he's our man/Nixon belongs in a garbage can" was our amazingly clever poem. They would reply, devastatingly, with "Nixon, Nixon, he's our man/Humphrey belongs in a garbage can." The level of political debate was amazing.
Most people forget that segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace won over 13% of the popular vote and actually won the electoral votes of five southern states in the 1968 elections.
There was one other candidate in that election, albeit a gag candidate: Pat Paulsen.
Paulsen was a writer on the Smothers Brothers show. The Smothers Brothers were a comedy duo, disguised as a folk duo. When all the other kids at school complained that they had to watch Lawrence Welk with their parents, I had a smirk of superiority; didn't everybody get to watch the Smothers Brothers with their parents last night?
The Smothers Brothers discovered that Paulsen was a deadpan comic genius. In 1968, the Smothers Brothers pursuaded him to run for President as a gag. His reply? "Why not? I can't dance — besides, the job has a good pension plan and I'll get a lot of money when I retire."
I couldn't find a good video clip on Youtube, but I found a few quotes:
"All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian"
"If elected, I will win."
"I've upped my standards...now up yours!"
Paulsen continued his gag campaigns, and got actual votes. According to Wikipedia, Paulsen came in second to George Bush in the 1992 North Dakota Republican primary, and second to Bill Clinton in the 1996 New Hampshire primary (Paulsen's 921 votes gave him 1% of the vote).
Pat Paulsen died in 1997, ending his Presidential runs, though even dead he couldn't do much worse than the current imbecile.