There are 521 days until the 2016 election and I’m already switching channels. England takes 40 days to campaign for Prime Minister, we take almost two years. The result is the current “cattle call” of nearly 20 possible candidates seeking the GOP nomination for president. Recently, Rick Santorum threw his hat in the ring. Or should I say his sweater vest?

In 2012, at seemingly every campaign stop, Rick wore a sweater vest. He was the religious right’s answer to Ozzie Nelson. (If you don’t get that reference, consider yourself young, or at least younger than yours truly.)

In 2006, Santorum lost his U.S. Senate seat by a whopping 18 percent. As an incumbent, that’s not easy to do. Then again, he’s called climate change “junk science” and predicted that gay marriage could lead to Americans engaging in bestiality. (Maybe the vest is too tight?)

Another possible GOP candidate is Donald Trump, who I think I like less than the Kardashians, whom I can’t stand. He claims he’s the”most successful presidential candidate ever!” (Only if your definition of “most successful” includes “most obnoxious.”) That said, I’d love to see Trump campaign in the Iowa winter with one hand on his carefully-crafted comb over to keep it from turning into a fright wig.

And Ted Cruz isn’t much better, cracking a series of lame Joe Biden jokes while knowing the man’s son had just died. (Yikes!) And then there’s Jeb Bush, whose foreign policy team is essentially the same that engineered the disastrous Iraq War, the worst and most expensive blunder in American history.

Lest we forget, Jeb’s older brother’s presidency included 9/11 and the worst economic meltdown since the Depression. (Remember when your house was worth less than your mortgage?)

I fear the 2016 presidential campaigns will be so dirty it’ll be one big Jerry Springer Show. Pundits predict over $5.5 billion will be spent, with billionaires pulling the strings. Thus, my title: “The United Estates of America.”

Actually, the title came from a new novel, “Shamans Saints and Sinners,” a political thriller about, coincidentally, a presidential election. It’s written by a local freelance writer, Cary Shulman, who, in the name of full disclosure, is a friend. Regardless, the book is a gripping page-turner. (And, what’s more, no character wears a sweater vest.)

In the novel Alan Shaw, a JFK-like Congressman from Texas, is running a third-party populist campaign. Shaw’s charm, charisma and attacks on 1-percenters, “We’ve become the United Estates of America,” threatens corporatocracy’s complete control. (Wouldn’t that be nice?)

Mobbed by adoring crowds desperate for change, Shaw proclaims, “The Democrats and Republicans have botched Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. They spy on us while they let our infrastructure rot and are destroying the middle class.”

The last third party candidate this radical was Teddy Roosevelt and he got shot. (But, amazingly, still finished his speech!) Shaw’s secret October surprises put him on a collision course with an unlikely pair, an unhinged ex-DEA agent and a sexy streetwise petty thief on the trail of a deadly plot that surrounds Shaw.

His opponents have billions and media coverage monopolies but Shaw vows to lift America’s poor and middle class and boldly promises to “End terrorism forever!” Is Shaw too good to be true? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

About our elections, with 521 days to go, I wish I could DVR the campaigns and hit fast forward some time in October, 2016. So brace yourself for the first debates in August. With Hillary’s commanding lead the Dems will likely be boring but the GOP could provide some laughs.

In 2012, Herman Cain, of Godfather Pizza fame, couldn’t answer a reporter’s question regarding Libya because, “I’ve got so many things whirring around in my head.” Congresswoman Michele Bachmann mixed up John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer and Romney delivered his infamous 47 percent rant.

But this year, Carly Fiorina (CEO fired from Hewlett-Packard) and Donald Trump from “Celebrity Apprentice” aren’t anything to sneeze at. Besides, a sneeze might mess Trump’s hair, leaving him looking like Larry from The Three Stooges. Add Mike Huckabee (Curly Joe) and Rick Perry (Moe) and now that’s a debate I’d watch!

Photo: Novelist Cary Shulman’s latest thriller hits bookstores.

“Shamans Saints and Sinners is available at independent bookstores and online in paperback and ebook at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Jack can be reached at facebook.com/jackneworth and twitter.com/jackneworth and by email at jnsmdp@aol.com.

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