Among all the doom-and-gloom headlines about the coronavirus pandemic and violent protests, some of the strangest stories of 2020 have come from friends across the Atlantic as they prepare to choose their new leader.
The US election is always a dramatic occasion, but it seems as though this year’s has been even weirder than usual.
Maybe it was all the social distancing rules interfering with normal election traditions, maybe it was the unique combination of the two main candidates’ personality quirks.
Whatever the reason, here are seven of the most bizarre moments from the campaign trail as we count down to November 3.
Kanye’s presidential breakdown
Beloved musical oddball Kanye West has been vowing to run for president since at least 2015, but this year it seemed like he might really do it.
On July 4 he announced he was throwing his hat in the ring for the top job — several months after the Republican and Democrat primaries had ended.
West said on Twitter: “We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION.”
Unfortunately the rapper kickstarted his campaign too late to appear on the ballot as an independent candidate in all but 12 states.
This didn’t seem to deter him and later that month he gave a rambling speech at his first rally that saw him tearfully discuss abortion, gun control, slavery and his own medication.
As president, West said he will restore prayer in American schools, legalise marijuana and created a “culture of life” — but he’s unlikely to get to implement these policies as he’s polling at just 2%.
“Will you shut up, man?”
The first presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump was a chaotic mess, with Trump interrupting his opponent 34 times (Biden interrupted a slightly more respectable 17 times).
It was hard to understand much of anything that was being said, let alone weigh up the differences in policy between the two candidates.
Moderator Chris Wallace tried to keep the debate under control, reprimanding both participants several times for speaking when it wasn’t their turn.
Eventually Biden got so sick of Trump’s snide remarks while he was talking (“You just lost the left!” he exclaimed at one point) that he turned to him and said, simply: “Will you shut up, man?”
Trump gets coronavirus
It’s no secret that the USA hasn’t coped well with the Covid-19 pandemic, with shocking new data this week revealing that one American is dying from the disease every 107 seconds.
President Trump has attempted to deflect blame for the public health disaster, at one point saying “I don’t take responsibility at all”.
That’s despite critics saying he made countless errors: downplaying the pandemic’s severity, failing to develop testing quickly, not providing medical workers with sufficient PPE, promoting dangerous unproven treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and encouraging states to relax their lockdowns before it was safe.
It was a twist of fate that Trump eventually caught Covid-19 himself after an outbreak in the White House at the beginning of October. There were grave concerns for his health as both the president’s age and obesity put him in the at-risk category.
But despite appearing to struggle for breath at speaking engagements, Trump seemed to recover miraculously quickly, staying in hospital for just three days (including an excursion to wave at supporters) before being declared “symptom-free” by his doctor.
Mike Pence’s fly friend
The vice-presidential debate is never usually as exciting as the main event, but this election cycle has been far from normal.
Biden’s VP pick Kamala Harris went head-to-head with current second-in-command Mike Pence on October 8, and the two debated a variety of issues from systemic racism to the pandemic.
But neither candidate could compete with the real star of the evening: a fly that landed on Pence’s head and perched there happily for a full two minutes.
Pence showed no sign he was bothered or even aware by the small winged visitor, but it sparked thousands of memes online, generating far more intrigue than most VP debates.
Biden grooves to Justin Bieber
In an attempt to win over Latino voters who make up a key block of support in the US, Biden appeared at an event commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month in September.
“I just have one thing to say,” the 77-year-old said as he arrived at the microphone and pulled out his phone. “Hang on here.”
The room was suddenly flooded with the sounds of the 2017 song ‘Despacito’, which was a smash hit in English speaking countries because it featured Justin Bieber.
However Biden played the Spanish-only version by Luis Fonsi, a Puerto Rican musician who had introduced him at the event.
The former vice-president grooved to the song for about 15 seconds while dancing at the podium in a moment that was deemed “cringe” by some, but also inspired countless loving memes and parodies.
One remix of the now-infamous moment saw Biden dancing to ‘Macho Man’ by the Village People, and the video was edited to show Trump at a second podium dancing as well.
“I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women”
Trump’s triumph over Covid-19 clearly left him feeling on top of the world, declaring himself immune to the virus (recent data shows coronavirus immunity may be short-lived).
He returned to the campaign in mid-October, arriving at an outdoor rally in Florida brimming with joie de vivre.
“I feel powerful,” he told the cheering crowd.
“I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women and everybody.”
He then spied a “handsome” man in the audience and informed him he would kiss him too, although “not with a lot of enjoyment”.
Trump closed out the event by dancing — for real this time — to the Village People, throwing his arms around in an approximation of the famous ‘Y.M.C.A’ choreography.
Porn star launches ‘Erection Season’ website
Cherie DeVille, who previously announced a presidential bid with rapper Coolio, launched a new website earlier this month that she hoped would get her fans voting by “appealing to their penises”.
The left-leaning adult film actress, 42, claims her get out the vote push is aimed at everyone, not just Democrats.
‘Erection Season; mixes sex and politics, with a video explaining her project and links to voter information for all 50 US states.
She said: “There is so much at stake. I want to convince anyone I can, even if I have to appeal to their penis.
“I think that the country is going through a lot and I hear a lot of people in casual conversations being very upset about a variety of things.”
Throughout this week, the Daily Star Online will be bringing you all the big news, and some of the quirkiest, from 2020’s US election. You can read more of our coverage here.