* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we continually demonstrate an uncanny ability to prognosticate events that have already happened. As witness Jason Guder's now nostalgic look back at the loser of the most recent presidential election.

Choose Your Own Adventure: Mitt Romney

By: Jason Guder

You are born Willard Mitt Romney, rich. REALLY rich. You go to some great schools where you earn the reputation of zany prankster. (Note: The gay kids don’t think you’re so zany.) After graduating, you prove yourself genetically engineered for business. You help with the Winter Olympics and briefly govern Massachusetts. You have a TON of money.

In 2007, you make a bid for the US presidency, but ultimately you lose your party’s nomination to a grizzled ex-POW with roughly 2,000 years of public service.

Do you:

— Lick your wounds, realize your life is already fantastic enough and spend the rest of your days giving friends free rides in your soon-to-be-completed car elevator (Page 33).

— Say, “Screw that. I WILL be the most powerful man in the free world! I’m running again in 2012!” (Page 61).

Page 61

Heck yeah, you’re running again! Your 2008 loss is attributed to a perception that you are detached from common Americans. You spend the next several years jet skiing about Lake Winnipesaukee, a pursuit advisors insist is well-loved by the filthy red-bloods. Even still, you have extra time.

Do you:

— Take low-profile trips around the US in an effort to understand Americans better, their lives, their struggles (Page 33).

— Write what you think is a pretty damn insightful OpEd for the New York Times about how the auto bailout is a terrible idea (Page 89).

Page 89

OpEd it is! You’re a modern-day Samuel Clemens! A less obscene Jonathan Swift! When published, those that agree with your editorial pretty much agreed before you wrote it. Those that don’t — including every living person in the swing state of Michigan — well…feel differently. This decision could haunt you.

Eh, bygones.

In June 2011, you once more declare your interest in the Republican nomination. Your competition is insane. One competitor will only speak of China. Another believes vaccinations cause mental retardation. There’s a lunar-colony enthusiast, a reality show host whose catch phrase (during a DOWN economy) is about laying people off, and a guy who makes cheap pizza. One woman may or may not consider herself a witch. And STILL your party’s enthusiasm for you is tepid.

Do you:

— Bow out, recognizing your party simply isn’t that into you (Page 78).

— Push on, knowing in your heart of hearts that you will be the best overlord — er, President this country has ever seen (Page 12).

Page 12

You push on. And have good luck! You don’t so much beat your competitors as, one at a time, they prove themselves unelectable. Congratulations on your nomination!

It’s time for the convention! Naturally, you choose a handsome, Ayn-Rand-loving fitness fanatic as your running mate. Let’s pump up that base!

Do you:

— Put yourself and your ideology center stage at the convention and hammer the incumbent with consistent messaging about his term’s failings (Page 81).

— Hand the primetime slot over to an aging Hollywood legend who prefers to work off-script; hope for the best (Page 192).

Page 192

Um…okay…you go the Hollywood route. Said legend spends his time onstage talking to an empty chair. Moving on…

There’s a little downtime between your party’s nomination and the actual election. Time to address one of your campaign’s shortcomings: non-American time (a.k.a. foreign policy experience). Off to England!

Do you:

— Smile and nod your way through a series of simple photo ops (Hint: Do this) (Page 15).

— Question your host country’s preparedness for the Olympics (because, after all, who wouldn’t want to hear your opinion on everything?) and speak publicly about your meeting with a secret intelligence service that prefers to remain secret (Page 199).

Page 199

You make some gaffes. It happens. We’ll turn this thing around back on friendly U.S. soil, right?

Once home, things do not improve. People have grown impatient with your double-dog-swear that yes, you do have an economic plan, but you’d prefer not to reveal it. General suspicion builds around your steadfast refusal to share more tax returns than is absolutely required. And if only you hadn’t authored a healthcare plan back in your governor days that’s brutally similar to the incumbent’s. But these are just misunderstandings, right?

Do you:

— Craft a speech that addresses each of these concerns head-on without double-talk, proving once and for all that you are the people’s candidate (Page 35).

— Hold a private fundraising dinner and insult nearly half the electorate as lazy incompetents whom you have no interest in serving (Hint: Don’t do this!) (Page 116).

Page 116

Ahem. You insult half the electorate. Surprise of all surprises, not everyone in the room is your friend. Someone leaks a tape. Um…

The first debate! Maybe THIS is your time to shine. Isn’t debate supposed to be your strength? Besides, now that you know betting an opponent $10,000 while onstage is ill-advised, this thing is yours to lose!

Do you:

— Follow the agreed-upon rules, respectfully rebuff your opponent’s viewpoints and lay out your own policies clearly (Page 5).

— Say to hell with rules, beat up on the moderator like the Public Broadcasting ninny he is, and be as disrespectful as possible, knowing the media — driven by its need to make coverage seem relevant — will support this performance as impassioned rather than rude, presidential rather than bullying (Page 53).

Page 53

Right you are! You’re back in the hunt!

Your performance — helped in large part by your opponent not taking the event seriously — is lauded as a huge success. Whereas before literally no one gave you a chance in hell of winning, now everyone with a microphone believes the race too close to call. Could you pull this off? Unfortunately…(Page 211).

Page 211

Your fall comes quickly. Not intimidated by your son’s expressed interest in punching him in the face, the incumbent President does show up for the next two debates. He pantses you. Despite having binders full of woman, few seem likely to vote for you. Your vendetta against a seven-foot-tall yellow bird gets relentless press.

The worst part…while at first it seemed as if God Himself was throwing you a Hail Mary in the form of a catastrophic storm, said storm does not devastate voter turnout in the blue Northeast. Further, the incumbent’s swift storm response has members of your own party embracing him on camera. When election night comes, you do your best to deny defeat — only quitters write concession speeches! — but defeat will not be denied.

In the end, concede you do. On the drive from campaign headquarters, if there’s a consolation, it’s that your party always takes care of its fallen warriors. Your efforts and personal sacrifice will NOT be forgotten. Er, wait —