Wanted: short, fat white man to succeed Barack Obama

You could call it the revenge of the ugly white guys. After electing a handsome sleek, biracial – and untested – man as President last time, Americans may well be ready for something entirely different in 2012.

Remember that you heard it here first: make way for the short, pudgy, balding white fellow who’s been there and got the scars – and the results – to prove it.

Haley Barbour has more hair than Daniels but isn’t much taller and if elected would be the most portly president since William Howard Taft, who occupied the White House from 1909 to 1913.

The Mississippi governor has a certain rumpled panache and Southern charm. I first bumped into him in a casino in his home state – where he later came to personify executive competence as he dealt masterfully with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina while neighbouring Louisiana lurched towards catastrophe.

Barbour – who has a political brain second to none – has always been dismissed as a possible presidential contender. That’s partly because he has the perfect face for radio but also because he was a big-time lobbyist in Washington whose firm represented the tobacco industry.

But while Obama sanctimoniously instituted grand new rules to ban lobbyists from his administration and then immediately granted himself exceptions, at least with Barbour is up front about things. So could he really have a tilt at the White House? The door is ajar. “If you see me losing 40 pounds that means I’m either running or have cancer,” he quipped a fortnight ago..