The Clown Prince

Known for his polymath brilliance and oddball wit, Boris Johnson is running for mayor of London. To win, he'll have to show his serious side

Harry Borden for TIME

Tory candidate Boris Johnson

As resolutions go, this one seems deceptively modest. "My ambition is to exterminate the word bumbling from the vocabulary of profilers," says Boris Johnson, the Conservative candidate for mayor of London. "There's going to be a massive stamping down on the bumbling. Much less bumbling." A quick search on Google reveals the scale of the problem: a combination of the words Boris Johnson and bumbling produces more than 27,600 results. Sample sentence from an article: "Everyone keeps telling me Boris Johnson's bumbling-idiot routine is just that--a routine. I'm not so sure."

Many Britons are familiar with that routine, which Johnson has...

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