Oops! Rick Perry's fatal gaffe at Republican debate

Rick Perry’s commitment to cutting the government down to size is almost religious. In fact, he’s so certain the federal government has gone to the dogs, he doesn’t waste time with trifling matters like remembering his own political platform.

­With all eyes on Herman Cain’s allegedly busy hands, it was Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry’s commitment to becoming the most rhetorically challenged Texan in US politics that stole the show at the CNBC Republican debate in Michigan on Wednesday.  

In a flash of rhetorical brilliance that would have made Cicero blush, Perry refused to remember all three of the federal agencies he would cut if elected president.  

“I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, Education, and the – what’s the third one there? Let’s see.”

In an act of inter-party solidarity, rival Republican candidate Mitt Romney threw him a lifeline by calling out EPA – the Environmental Protection Agency.  

"EPA, there you go," Perry said.

Except that it wasn’t the EPA he was grasping for.  

Somewhat taken aback, moderator John Howard asked Perry “Seriously…You can't name the third one?"

Perry continued to fumble for the answer, though he didn’t help his case.  

“Commerce and, let’s see,” Perry pondered. “I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”

Some 15 minutes down the line, Perry would eventually recall it was the Department of Energy he had been reaching for all that time.  He could be having second thoughs though, seeing that the Department of Energy  might be the very agency to deal with the fallout from this potentially lethal gaffe.  

In one of the more lucid moments of his campaign, Perry took it upon himself to face the media afterwards:  

"I'm sure glad I had my boots on because I sure stepped in it out there," he said.

Step in it he did.  When the conservative governor of Texas originally announced his candidacy on August 13, he immediately stormed to the top of the pack of Republican presidential hopefuls.

But a series of blunders, culminating in what may have been the most humiliating debate performance in modern US history, have almost certainly ended his hopes to take on President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race.    

Speaking in New Hampshire last month, Perry, who appeared something like a giddy conductor at the very least high on life, improvised his own version of American spirit:

 “I come from a state where they had this little place called the Alamo and they declared victory or death,” said Perry. “We’re kinda into those slogans, man. Live free or die; victory or death. Bring it!”

But despite his enthusiasm, he’s been plummeting in the polls ever since.   

Meanwhile, current frontrunner Herman Cain emerged from the debates unscathed, despite allegations of sexual harassment from four different women.

But while the Republican faithful might be able to forgive the motivational speaker and former chairman of Godfather’s Pizza for his sexual peccadilloes, the greater American public will almost certainly be less lenient.  

With a mixture of scandal and embarrassment mounting against both Cain and Perry, many think the mostly uninspiring former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney has the most to gain, as the rest of the competition seem to be dead set on derailing their own presidential dreams.