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South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem attends an event Jan. 10, at the state Capitol in Pierre, S.D. The Guardian has obtained a copy of Noem's soon-to-be released book, where she writes about killing a 14-month-old dog, and a goat.Jack Dura/The Associated Press

Well, strike one leading candidate from Donald Trump’s vice-presidential list. That would be dog murderer Kristi Noem, the Governor of South Dakota.

You may have been thinking things couldn’t get much more absurd and debased south of the border. A defeated president, twice impeached, running again while charged with multiple criminal offences. The tawdry spectacle of him in a dreary New York courtroom, stewing over allegations of buying the silence of adult film star Stormy Daniels. Reports of loudly passing gas during the proceedings. Amid the storm over Stormy, his standing outside the courtroom wishing his wife Melania a happy birthday. And all the shameful while, his increasing his standing with Americans in opinion polls.

It’s no small feat to compete for headlines with that. Except if you’re brain-dead enough to reveal, as Ms. Noem does in her new memoir, No Going Back, that she executed her puppy Cricket with a gun blast in a gravel pit.

Cricket, a wire-haired Pointer, was only 14 months old. Her offence? She had disrupted Ms. Noem’s pheasant hunt by scattering the birds. Terrible. And on the way home, Cricket attacked her neighbour’s chickens.

Capital punishment for that? On the contrary, maybe Ms. Noem should be on trial as well as the Republican nominee – for cruelty to animals.

Ms. Noem also revealed that she assassinated her goat because it was too smelly. Couldn’t she have just washed it down with a hose?

The governor and former congresswoman was a rising MAGA star, a great Trump favourite. He liked her looks. And she’s won 11 elections in a row. “I don’t know how to lose,” she claimed. But she does now. If there’s one thing that unites the right and left in her brutally divided country, it’s a love of dogs. No way Mr. Trump can select her. Even Republicans were appalled. “This is so heartless,” said hard-right activist Laura Loomer. Donald Trump Jr. was also taken aback.

The wonder is why Ms. Noem made such a damaging revelation. She probably figured, better to get it out now than have it revealed later by a hostile third party.

She’s saying the pet shootings make her look tough and decisive. But she’s become a punch line for the late-night comics, and they’re dragging Mr. Trump into the mix. On the dog going after the chickens, Stephen Colbert cracked, “Governor Noem, if you don’t like untrainable animals that wolf down chicken, I have bad news about your party’s nominee.”

Mr. Trump didn’t comment on the animal slayings. At the hush money trial, he’s battling prosecutors out to prove he falsified business records to prevent the alleged affair with Ms. Daniels from becoming public right before the 2016 election.

“It was election fraud. Pure and simple,” prosecutor Matthew Colangelo claimed. “I have a spoiler alert,” Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, shot back. “There is nothing wrong with trying to influence an election. It’s called democracy.”

But testimony so far has supported allegations that democracy was being undermined. Tabloid publisher David Pecker detailed schemes that Mr. Trump allegedly used with him to bury stories of incriminating activities.

The hearings aren’t being televised however, and this is helping the former president survive the ordeal. Thus far, two weeks in, the trial isn’t quite the humiliation many thought it would be. Reactions continue to break down strictly along party lines. Republicans are buying into the line that paying hush money is not a crime, that falsifying business records is but a misdemeanour, that it’s all just a hit job by the Democratic deep state.

President Joe Biden had a brief upward bump in opinion polls in late March and early April. But since the trial began, the numbers show Mr. Trump regaining ground and leading, though narrowly, in all seven battleground states.

Outside the courtroom, Mr. Trump has been attacking Mr. Biden with everything but the force used by Ms. Noem on her dog and goat. And Mr. Trump has been denouncing the legal proceedings so heatedly that he was ruled in contempt of court Tuesday for violating gag orders.

Elsewhere, Mr. Trump’s legal team has argued before the Supreme Court that presidents deserve immunity from prosecution. At the same time, bearing no mind to this, Mr. Trump has repeatedly threatened that if he regains the White House, he will prosecute Mr. Biden for alleged nefarious deeds.

Could American politics get more wacko, to use a favourite Pierre Poilievre term? Until Ms. Noem’s puppy murder revelation, we thought not.

Poor Cricket. May she rest in peace.

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