It's hard to imagine how things could get weirder in the Act Party. Don Brash, who mounts hostile takeovers of political parties like an 80s corporate raider, has a wild look in his eyes, and the fixed grin he flashes at interviewers is looking more like a wince with every passing day.
Little wonder. When he took over the reins of the party at the end of April, the former Reserve Bank Governor was predicting Act would take 15 per cent of the vote in November, and saying that he would love to be Finance Minister in the next administration. If he did not achieve that, he said, he'd go back to planting kiwifruit.
A quick look at the polls these days suggests they'll be seeing a lot of the good doctor around Te Puke this summer. The party's numbers spiked briefly shortly after the takeover, but when Brash started to revisit the ideas that had worked so well for him at Orewa, the public turned off. At last count, Act was registering less than 10 per cent of the support Brash promised to gather. At that rate, he might have trouble getting into Parliament himself.
In the meantime every member of the Act caucus has either jumped (Sir Roger Douglas, Heather Roy, John Boscawen) or been thrown (Hillary Calvert, whose caucus vote allowed Brash to roll Hide). Hide himself jumped while being thrown. Brash is like a general shouting "Charge!", only to look behind him to see the dust of his retreating cavalry.
At times like these a party returns to its core concerns, so naturally the leader of Act, the party of extreme-right-wing neoliberal economics, suggests that we should decriminalise marijuana.
It was strange enough having a leader who went from Humpty Dumpty to stud muffin and perk-buster to perk-grabber in the space of a year. But in the Brash era, Rodney Hide is starting to look like Winston Churchill.
Perhaps the voters of Epsom will come to their senses now Brash has lost his. The alternative is too awful to contemplate.