It's become the formula.
1. Have an embarrassing gaffe, such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry did during Wednesday's Republican presidential debate, when he couldn't remember the third of three federal agencies he would eliminate.
2. Immediately do what you can to spin what happened. Afterward, Perry said he had really "stepped in it," but also emphasized that the real problem is how bloated he thinks the federal government is.
3. Go on one of the late-night shows to make fun of yourself. In Perry's case, it was CBS-TV's Late Show with David Letterman and it's Top 10 list — in this case, the "Top 10 Rick Perry Excuses."
Here's the Letterman list that Perry read:
10. "There were three reasons why I messed up last night: 1) The nerves 2) The headache and 3) Um...Uh...Oops."
9. "I don't know what you're talking about — I think things went well."
8. "I was up late last night watching Dancing With The Stars."
7. "I thought the debate was tonight."
6. "You try concentrating with Mitt Romney smiling at you. That is one handsome dude."
5. "Uh, El Nino?"
4. "I had a Five-Hour Energy Drink six hours before the debate."
3. "I really hoped it would get me on my favorite talk show, but instead, I ended up here."
2. "I wanted to help take the heat off my buddy Herman Cain."
1. "I just learned Justin Bieber is my father."