What an apt moment for a presidential debate, coming after the release of a video showing the shockingly vulgar comments of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, and after more signs of a party implosion.
Sunday night's TV audience for the second presidential debate might have eclipsed the first, the numbers aren't all in at this writing.
Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton faced off in a town-hall-style debate co-moderated by ABC News' Martha Raddatz and CNN's Anderson Cooper at Washington University in St. Louis.
For sheer vitriol, this event -- more like a bout between two heavyweight fighters -- probably was unprecedented in the history of televised political debates.
Here is a first impression of the night's highlights:
1. No opening handshake. Debate candidates always shake hands before they come out swinging, it's just tradition. Not these two. Clinton just nodded Trump's way and said "hello;" Trump barely grunted. It set the tone for the tension to come.
2. Salivating moderators jumped right into the video question. Raddatz and Cooper didn't wait for the audience to ask. They wanted -- and got -- Trump's explanation. Trump said he's "very embarrassed" by his lewd comments recorded in 2005 when he talked about his ability to make advances on women because of his celebrity.
"This was locker room talk," he said. "I'm not proud of it. I apologized to my family, I apologized to the American people. Certainly I'm not proud of it. But this is locker room talk," he said.
Cooper pressed him on whether he had ever done any of the things he described in his "locker toom talk," which included kissing women against their will and groping their genitalia. Trump said he had not.
Clinton was quick to point out that, "yes, this is who Donald Trump is," that "we saw him after the first debate spend nearly a week denigrating a former Miss Universe in the harshest personal terms."
3. Trump brings former Clinton accusers to the debate. And makes sure everybody knows. The women were Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Kathy Shelton. Shelton was raped at the age of 12. Her attacker was represented by Hillary Clinton.
"If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse," said Trump. "Mine are words and his was actions. His was ... what he's done to women, there's never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that's been so abusive to women ... Hillary Clinton attacked those same women. And attacked them viciously, four of them here tonight."
4. Both candidates demand an apology for the same thing. Very weird. Trump pedaled the "birther" theory for years -- that Barack Obama was born in Kenya instead of Hawaii. Said Clinton: "He owes the president an apology, he owes our country an apology and he needs to take responsibility for his actions and his words."
Trump came back with this: "Well, you owe the president an apology because as you know very well, your campaign's Sidney Blumenthal, he's another real winner you have and he's the one that got this started, along with your campaign manager. So you really owe him an apology."
5. Clinton's private email server she used as secretary of state. "I think the one thing you should be apologizing for are the 33,000 emails you deleted," Trump said. Clinton replied she has always admitted she made a mistake, and if she had a chance for a do-over, "would obviously never do it again." She also said there has never been any evidence that the server had been hacked. But Trump's badgering on missing emails clearly flustered her.
6. Trump's Islamophobia dodge. A Muslim woman in the audience asked, "With Islamophobia on the rise, how will you help people?" Trump had no ideas to "help," apparently. He said, "We have to be sure Muslims come in and report when they see something going on, when they see hatred going on."
Clinton's response was, "My vision is an America where everyone has a place if you are willing to work hard and do your part and you contribute to the community ..."
She had said earlier she "wants to be the president of all Americans," no matter their religion or party or color. Trump may have missed an opportunity there by failing to question her about the people she has identified as "the deplorables."
7. A special prosecutor to probe Clinton? "... If I win," Trump said while roaming the stage, "I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your (email) situation, because there have never been so many lies, so much deception, there has never been anything like it, and we're going to have a special prosecutor."
Trump said Clinton took special measures to delete email correspondence from her time at the State Department: "You acid wash, or bleach them, as you would say, a very expensive process."
Replied Clinton, "Everything he just said is absolutely false, but I'm not surprised.'
8. Trump's income-tax-loophole admission. Trump said, "of course," he used the tax provision that allowed him to use a business loss to avoid paying federal income taxes for years. And, when asked whether he could say how many years he did not pay taxes, Trump said he could not.
9. Say something nice ... The last questioner in the audience asked each of them to identify something they respect in the other. The audience laughed, the candidates laughed.
Clinton said she liked Trump's children. "His children are incredibly able and devoted and I think that says a lot about Donald. ..."
Trump said, "She doesn't quit and doesn't give up. I respect that. She is a fighter. ..."
(For a complete replay of Sunday night's second presidential debate, click here.)