Hey, it's Las Vegas! Place your bets in Trump, Clinton debate

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Signs outside the Thomas & Mack Center on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus.

HOW FITTING that this year's final debate for the most powerful office in the world is taking place in "the Entertainment Capital of the World."

How apt that candidates widely viewed as dishonest and risky vie for votes in a gambling mecca - though one of them might not like that term.

How appropriate that a contest as gaudy and gauche as this one essentially ends in a city where gaudy and gauche is the norm.

I won't be surprised if Donald Trump takes the stage to strands of Sinatra's "My Way." Or if Hillary Clinton channels Wayne Newton's "Danke Schoen," thanking the GOP for Trump.

Place your bets.

You know there'll be a rehash of covered ground: the economy, immigration, foreign policy. He'll say they're horrible. She'll offer plans to make them better.

You know it'll get personal. These two can't debate without digging into each other's deep and problematic flaws.

That means more on groping or, for Clinton supporters, sexual assault. And more on WikiLeaks or, for Trump supporters, Clinton's crimes.

And when the metaphoric roulette wheel spins, you'll be able to tell who's on a roll by the way each one reacts.

Watch Trump go big, stack more chips on the same numbers he's been playing.

He sticks to his story that the groping/sexual assault never happened, that there's a "global" conspiracy involving "dishonest and disgusting" media covering up Clinton's criminality and ill health in a "rigged" election to keep him out of the White House because he's an agent of change.

Watch her stand pat, letting the chips on her few numbers ride: Everything he says is untrue; he's unfit to be president.

There likely will be a moment or two.

I picture Trump focused on reports that the Department of State sought a swap of favors with the FBI to help Clinton out of her email mess: The FBI would declassify a particular Benghazi email from Clinton's private server; State would station more FBI agents in sensitive overseas posts.

I can hear and see Trump castigating Clinton for involvement in (with slow, exaggeration pronunciation) "a quid pro quo" to hide her criminality.

I can hear and see Clinton, with a slight backward lean, say, "Well, everything you just heard is simply not true and already discredited."

(FBI and State say there was no deal.)

What there likely won't be? Much change in the landscape.

Base support for these two is solid. Debates don't much move numbers.

But maybe that depends on which Chris Wallace shows up.

The Fox News anchor is moderating. While moderating a GOP primary debate in March, he challenged Trump's economic plans. He said The Donald's "numbers don't add up" and would not cut the federal deficit.

But just last month, in an interview with Fox News media reporter Howard Kurtz, Wallace said "it's not my job" as moderator to fact-check or be "a truth squad."

That should hand Trump some rope. Clinton hopes he uses it.

It is, if you step back, an election suited more for late-night comics than for the good of the country, and disheartening to a degree not seen in most of our lifetimes.

The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll asked questions on the very basics of leadership: honesty, trustworthiness, moral character. Responses indicate voters' views of our next president.

Is Clinton honest and trustworthy? Sixty-two percent said "no." Is Trump honest and trustworthy? Sixty-four percent said "no."

Does Clinton have strong moral character? Fifty-two percent said "no." Does Trump have strong moral character? Sixty-six percent said "no."

Makes one wish whatever happens in Vegas really would stay in Vegas.

baerj@phillynews.com

Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

Columns: ph.ly/JohnBaer