I was having trouble concentrating on the final presidential debate because I kept imagining Ross Perot watching alone in his Dallas mansion and yelling out the answer to every question the moment it was asked, like a particularly geeky member of Mensa taking in a week's worth of Jeopardy! tapes on Saturday night.

Perot was not the only member of the nationwide debate audience cluttering up my mind. I also thought of my friend James, who was watching the sixth game of the National League playoffs on a muted television while listening to the debate on earphones.

When James explained his...

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