Moment of impact: During Wednesday night’s Republican debate, all 86 billion neurons in Chris Christie’s head froze up at a UFO question, then transformed him into a standup comic.

Wish I’d been inside Chris Christie’s head with a flashlight on Wednesday night when Fox News debate co-host Martha MacCallum dropped the UFO bomb. The brain can be a wondrous organ, and I would love to have seen the menu of response-options his neurons dialed up as his face figured out which way to slide.

It took him about a minute of stalling and spewing non-sequitur gibberish before settling on the only thing in memory storage he could cling to for perceived political advantage — his record for bashing the teachers union when he was governor of New Jersey. “That,” he said of organized labor after the tinkling time-bell reminded him to shut up, “is the biggest threat to our country, not UFOs.”

With that, the arguably most rational man on the eight-person GOP debate stage in Milwaukee managed to salvage an applause line, from a crowd that was obviously none the wiser about the UFO hearings and transparency bills coming out of Congress this year. Only moderator Tim Russert’s gag-line sucker punch during a Democratic primary debate in 2007 kept it from setting precedent. And it’s worth revisiting.

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