ABOUT the same time the mining magnate Clive Palmer announced he wanted to run against the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, at the next election - just as soon as he had finished building a life-size replica of the Titanic - the satirists of Australia received a memo. Their services would no longer be needed.
Humorists, wry commentators and the schooner-nursing jokester at your local pub would also be made redundant.
The reality of the political landscape has become so bonkers, it is better than anything even the most gifted wit could invent.
Consider, as merely one example, the Palmer candidacy.
Palmer - who looks less like a billionaire than a man who would be cast to play a billionaire in a wacky Eddie Murphy movie - is a man of restless interests.
He announced recently he would legally contest the carbon tax, establish a media investment trust and create a new soccer governing body. He has revealed the secret CIA backing of the Greens. And that's before we even get to his mission to build Titanic II and sail it across the Atlantic with a Chinese naval escort.
But instead of treating Palmer as a nuisance candidate, the Treasurer, who is supposed to be focused on the budget, gave a serious press conference to respond to him.
It took the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, to kibosh the story, by saying the seat of Lilley needed a ''grassroots candidate''. Which presumably rules out anyone with a private jet.
Politics in this country is no longer merely eccentric, or even ''interesting'' in the sense of the famous Chinese curse.
It's more nutso than a hatful of monkeys on a unicycle ride to the big top. People, like sad clowns at the circus, do not know whether to laugh or cry.
You might even say ''a line has been crossed''.
Jacqueline Maley is the Canberra-based Parliamentary Sketch Writer for The Sydney Morning Herald.