For a limited time only, you can have your very own Gov. Andre Bauer.

Bauer comes with no baggage, no spouse and a couple of paid speeding tickets.

Act now and your state may no longer be featured regularly on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.

You must call soon because this offer expires sometime in the next month or so.

The lieutenant governor made this pitch Wednesday, magnanimously offering to take himself out of the 2010 governor's race if it would smooth the way for Gov. Mark Sanford's resignation.

Bauer said the "lingering questions and continuing distractions make it virtually impossible for our state to solve the critical problems we are facing without a change in leadership."

Well, yeah.

Bauer's offer comes in the wake of calls for at least two investigations and the comments of various House members who are openly musing about the possibilities of impeachment hearings. It was followed by Sanford's own press conference, in which he tried to save himself by throwing several former governors under the bus.

And they say the media are hung up on this Kabuki theater.

Fact is, nobody can look away from this train wreck.

Told you so

Two months ago, when the first people called for Sanford to resign, this is what they were hoping to avoid.

Those folks -- some of whom were playing politics; the governor is right about that -- said the state would become so absorbed by all the fallout from Sanford's affair that nothing else would get done in this state.

Well, at least now there's a good excuse for why nothing's getting done. Unfortunately, it's not likely to abate anytime soon.

So far, we've got possible investigations by the State Ethics Commission and Legislative Audit Council; Sen. David Thomas storming the Statehouse with pitchfork and torch in hand; and the House Judiciary Committee considering an impeachment resolution.

And we've got Sanford making the asinine argument that his excessive travel expenses are not nearly as bad as Govs. Hodges', Beasley's and Campbell's excessive travel expenses. That's like telling the state trooper that everybody else was speeding, too.

In other words, it's not helping matters -- for him, or for the state. It's drawing out the obvious.

Stop this game

The state is in a bad spot right about now.

If Sanford is impeached, it will be on somewhat marginal grounds: He may have spent too much on travel. But it's going to be hard to say that he personally violated a law (other than those governing hypocrisy). Such a move could hurt the Legislature's credibility.

Sanford, meanwhile, is playing chicken.

He's not going to resign, even though he must know it's the only real way to stop this madness.

There are only losers in this game. South Carolina has replaced Florida atop the list of wackiest states. Voters are stuck with a government too preoccupied with its own internal drama to deal with massive unemployment and continuing budget shortfalls. And Bauer's offer expires this fall.

Of course, the biggest losers here may be the ones who actually have had no part in this. Because even though this circus is an entirely Republican production, the Democrats still can't win in this state.

Reach Brian Hicks at 937-5561 or bhicks@postandcourier.com. To read previous columns, go to postandcourier.com/hicks.