DEBATE LIVEBLOGGING ROUND 3….It’s Friday night. That means it’s date night. It’s Twins vs. Yankees night. It’s high school football night. So is anyone going to bother watching tonight’s debate?

A.C. Nielsen Nielsen Media Research will answer that question tomorrow, but I fully expect the hardy band of Political Animal readers to put aside lesser pleasures and tune in despite these petty distractions. Onward.

Wrapup: this one was closer than the first debate, but what was up with Bush, especially in the first half hour? He was jabbing the air, hectoring the audience, interrupting Charlie Gibson, leaping to his feet, and barely allowing the questioners to finish before he started bellowing. He seemed like he just couldn’t understand why these people continued to disagree with him. Why? Why?

Kerry had a few miscues, but nothing serious. Overall, he was calmer, more direct, and more sincere sounding than Bush, who often sounded like he was just repeating bullet points. Kerry didn’t land any killer blows, but he did get under Bush’s skin, and that might be more important in the end.

My guess is that Kerry picks up another couple of points in the polls based on this appearance.

A complete transcript of the debate is here.

10:30 ? Three examples of bad decisions for President Bush. There’s not a chance he’ll actually answer this. After all, he’s never made one, has he…?

10:21 ? We now know that George Bush thinks the Dred Scott decision was wrong. See, he’s against slavery. Glad to hear it.

10:16 ? Kerry’s answer on stem cells was pretty good on substance, although he was oddly tongue-tied trying to figure out how to express himself.

10:11 ? OK, that $84 timber thing was kind of weird. I don’t think anyone understood what Kerry was talking about. Bush’s response was pretty weird, too.

10:08 ? Bush has calmed down a little bit since we got onto domestic issues. Still using a pretty hectoring tone of voice, though.

No bulge in the back of his jacket, though.

10:06 ? Hey, Kerry remembered Nicky from the very beginning of the debate! Good job, John!

10:04 ? Why is Kerry responding with a weird diatribe about labels?

….OK, now he’s talking about the environment. He’s not very effective either. Too wonky. I doubt that very many people really understood what either guy was talking about.

10:02 ? Wow. Bush the wonk takes over when he’s asked about his environmental policy. It’s not a very effective answer, but it is wonky.

9:59 ? Bush: “Of course he’s going to raise your taxes.” Hmmm. Then: “Is my time up?” Huh? Can’t he see the lights?

9:56 ? Can I just say that the audience questions have been pretty good so far? Better than the pros.

9:51 ? Bush: “We have a deficit.” Why? The Clinton bubble. The war. Followed by an obvious lie about the rise in nondefense spending. Will Kerry call him on it?

9:43 ? Kerry just kicked Bush’s ass on the Canadian drug issue. Absolutely kicked his ass.

9:41 ? Bush practically jumped down the throat of the poor guy who asked him why he had banned re-importation of Canadian drugs. “I’m not doing that yet!” But he’s got to make sure Canadian drugs don’t kill you first.

9:34 ? Holy cow. Bush is coming unhinged. He just started yelling at Charlie Gibson, who was trying to ask him a question, and then looked like he was about to jump in the audience when he responded to Kerry’s charge that he acted unilaterally.

9:32 ? The internets? How many does Bush think there are?

9:28 ? Kerry really seems to be getting under Bush’s skin. “Of course I’m paying attention,” “Of course I know that.”

9:25 ? Kerry’s response about the military being responsible for winning the war but the president being responsible for winning the peace was pretty good.

9:23 ? That rant from Bush about popularity was just bizarre.

9:21 ? Am I the only one who thinks that Bush is practically yelling at the audience?

9:19 ? Bush is really getting peeved about not finding WMD.

9:18 ? Bush: “Our plan is working.” Huh?

9:17 ? Bush: “I know how these people think.” He really likes that line for some reason.

9:15 ? Ah, the “global test.” We knew that was coming, didn’t we?

9:14 ? Kerry’s seems kind of hot too.

9:12 ? Bush seems awfully loud and aggressive for a town hall format….

9:03 ? Hmmm, it’s red tie vs. blue tie. I think Kerry is ahead already.

8:59 ? Oh, right, the debate. Sorry about that. So, um, what’s up with Paul Begala’s bright purple tie?

8:50 ? I’ve just learned that Spinal Tap’s Harry Shearer likes my blog. Our new tagline: Political Animal goes to 11! Take that, Wolf Blitzer!

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