Michael Steele, Mitt, Huck, Rudy, and then the main event: The heavy hitters start around 9 p.m. ET with the Barracuda to follow circa 10:30. Strident Obama partisans are excused from rooting for her; everyone else needs a note from mom. She’s still got an open field to run: 66% say they don’t know enough about her, and of those who do, two to one are in favor.We’ll have the video as soon as it’s available, probably shortly before midnight. If you’re away from the TV, most of the news nets’ websites offer live feeds, as of course does C-SPAN’s. A taste of things to come:

Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”

Romney’s going to go out and tweak Michelle Obama, an exceedingly foolish move after The One made a show of pushing Bristol Palin out of the crosshairs a few days ago. Granted, it’s apples and oranges, but it’s stupid to hand the media a gimme victim meme. Maybe Mitt will wise up and pull it beforehand.

While we wait, I offer you the good, the bad, the ugly, and the bizarre. The good: Whatever the left would have you believe, Palin’s apparently not one to legislate her religious convictions. The bad: The talking point about commanding the Alaska NG really is weak. The ugly: Three of the earmarks she requested as mayor of Wasilla were included in “pork lists” compiled and publicized by … John McCain. And the bizarre: Jake Tapper floats the theory that McCain’s camp is itself trying to circulate smears about Palin, to rally the base behind her. His evidence? The fact that they sent out a press release today about the new Enquirer story before he’d had a chance to see it. Good work, Jake.

I leave you with sweetness and light from a different McCain/Palin ticket. Exit question: Timothy Noah makes a tantalizing point here. Could the pathetic “scandals” the media’s unearthed have lowered expectations so much that anything north of decent tonight will be hailed as an earth-shattering triumph? Just desserts, baby. Taste them. Click the image to watch.

Update: Here’s a better exit question, actually. Try to guess who asked it: “Why shouldn’t a little-known woman have the same opportunity to grow?”