Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talks to...

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talks to supporters at the Family Table restaurant during a campaign stop in Le Mars, Iowa. (Dec. 31, 2011) Credit: AP

No one can tell you now who will win the Iowa caucuses Tuesday. The polls can't. The pundits can't. I certainly can't. But even I know this much: The first official test of the Republican candidates for president has been one head-spinning, heart-pounding breakneck ride, careening all the way to the finish line.

And look at all the bruised bodies littering the road.

Pizza man Herman Cain, who went from rising star to also-ran in 999 seconds. Math major Rick Perry, who's still practicing his counting, 1-2-whatever. Debate king Newt Gingrich, too smart for the room AND too dumb for it. Poor Jon Huntsman, wondering why everybody else got to surge but him. Lingering Donald Trump, who never was a candidate, just kept pretending to be. Oh, right, and Michele Bachmann -- remember her?

That leaves front-runner Mitt Romney, running at the front again. It leaves surging Rick Santorum, surging not a minute too soon. And it leaves Ron Paul, speaking for the End-the-Drug-War-and-All-Other-Wars Wing of the Republican Party. Who knew there was such a wing?

So buckle your seat belts. Aren't elections fun?

 

REFUND OR EXCHANGE

1. Verizon's $2 bill-pay charge

2. Bank of America's $5 debit-card fee

3. Netflix's online streaming and DVD-rental divorce

4. That little Christmas tattletale, "Elf on the Shelf"

5. Talk already of an iPad 3

 

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Whose new year is any happier than Alex Antiohos', the security contractor from West Babylon freed after 18 days in a squalid Iraqi jail? . . . How do state regulators tell the "gas gougers" from those stations that just charge way too much all the time? Add the JW Station Corp. in Farmingdale (Tropical Storm Irene top-off, $4.89 a gallon) to the official gouger list . . .By waiting until the new year to claim the $208 million, can Tuesday's Mega Millions winner duck any 2011 tax bite? People at Middle Island King Kullen were just wondering . . . Will Ed Mangano be taking one of his NICE new buses to work? The Nassau exec says Veolia Transportation "will run bus service more efficiently and effectively" than the MTA ever did . . . Is Sam Eshaghoff about to become the new Joey Buttafuoco, the bad-example LIer who trashes our rep everywhere? The alleged SAT scammer (and smirking "60 Minutes" interviewee) certainly seems on the verge . . . Can you say "LIU Post"? Will a snappier name (and a $9.5-million, six-campus re-branding campaign) help what used to be called the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University in Brookville?

 

THE NEWS IN SONG: Music to run by: University of Iowa Bassoon Quartet, "Iowa Fight Song," http://tinyurl.com/iowafight

 

LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK: FINGERS

He plays loud music. He rides loud bikes. But Fingers, WBAB/102.3's metalhead afternoon man, speaks with quiet reverence about his plans for Sunday. It's kickstands up at noon for the 9th annual Cold Finger Run -- Fingers on a Dyna Wide Glide Harley, joined by hundreds of other charity-minded motorcycle riders, braving the frigid temps to benefit the American Cancer Society's Camp Adventure on Shelter Island. "I'm a very regular guy," the LI radio legend says. "My house is in foreclosure. I'm a lucky to have a job I love so much, even luckier to have the chance to give something back." The riders start at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City. Late entries are still welcome. Everyone kicks in $20. The day ends with a post-run party at Mulcahy's in Centereach. Every nickel goes to the kids. "I've been out to the camp quite a few times," Fingers says softly. "Amazing kids in an amazing place."

Email ellis@henican.com
Follow on Twitter @henican

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