Every four years, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) puts on a series of campaign commercials disguised as presidential and vice-presidential debates.

The CPD is, in theory, a not-for-profit organization "established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners."

But the CPD is really just a scam the Republican and Democratic parties use to funnel illegally large "in kind" campaign donations, in the form of tens of millions of dollars' worth of free media exposure, exclusively to their own candidates.

A real nonpartisan, not-for-profit debate organization would use objective criteria for deciding which candidates may participate in debates. The CPD continuously refines its criteria with an eye toward ensuring that no third party or independent candidates qualifies for a microphone at a CPD "debate."

I spent the better part of last Wednesday asking folks around the Statehouse if they had anything positive to tell me. I went looking for anything that might indicate a silver lining to this increasingly nasty spring legislative session.

Mostly, people just laughed at me.

Other than some individual personal developments, there just wasn't much positivity around. The governor's chief of staff, Mike Zolnierowicz, and his incomparable wife Barret were about to have a new baby. They're great people and that's wonderful news, but it also means that "Z" was not going to be able to work on solving the problems for a few days.

A gaming-expansion bill appeared to be progressing. But I'm told the governor is in no mood to sign it as long as his "Turnaround Agenda" is being ignored by the majority Democrats.

The Senate Democrats, meanwhile, were expected to move legislation to help Chicago out of its horrific fiscal mess, but there's still the problem with the governor's refusal to do anything for the Democrats until he gets what he wants.

So I came up with nothing.