Time was, he was every reporter's favorite potential veep pick for George W. Bush. Bronze star in Vietnam. Popular governor of a swing state. Too bad he happened to be pro-choice - or, reading between the lines, too bad the Taliban wing of the GOP won't let Bush make the right choice for VP.

Then we had the chance to watch Tom Ridge on the national stage, in a role that could have made his career - the first head of Homeland Security, the man responsible for keeping us safe in our beds, the first line of defense against terrorists. And it quickly became clear that Ridge was vastly better as a journalistic fantasy-league pick than as an actual national politician. Obviously, he was dealt a difficult hand in many ways, and presumably he didn't come up with the easily-mockable "orange alert" system that became his calling card. But nothing about his record at DHS, or his current profile on the national scene, suggests that he would make a solid VP choice for John McCain.