Forget serious discussion about the future of America. On social media -- from the snark-centric world of Twitter to the picture's-worth-1,000-insults pages of Tumblr -- it's an ill-timed slip of the tongue that fires folks' political passions.
And Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney served up a doozy Tuesday night with a weird turn of phrase that instantly launched "binders full of women" into the Internet's lexicon.
First, some context. When Romney and President Barack Obama were asked at Tuesday's town hall debate what they would do to address salary equity issues for women, Romney instead told a story from when he was governor of Massachusetts.
He said he was considering applicants for his Cabinet and noticed that almost all of them were men. So, the story goes, he made a point of recruiting women for the posts.
"And -- and so we -- we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our Cabinet," he said. "I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks,' and they brought us whole binders full of women."
Mere seconds later, commentary on the wording, which conjures up images of little black books or women literally being crammed into notebooks, was lighting up the Web -- and the Trapper Keeper's role in the 2012 election had begun.
"Binders full of women is what they find in a serial killer's apartment," zinged Adam Sternbergh of New York Times magazine. "Fonzie had binders of women too #debate #littleblackbook," added comedian Steve Agee.
Among social media's finer binder creations:
Tumblr -- Forget Obama's perceived comeback. The real winner of this debate was the "Binders Full of Women" Tumblr account. As a repository for the Web's wit, the quickly crafted page acted as home base for images goofing on the phrase. Favorites? Celebrity chef Paula Deen riding a Trapper Keeper like a rodeo cowgirl and a Photoshopped Beyonce singing, "If you liked it then you should have put three rings on it."
Twitter: The first presidential debate gave us Fired Big Bird and Big Bird Romney. The vice presidential tilt spawned Laughing Joe Biden. And this one was no different. Long before Tuesday's debate was over, Romney's Binder was tweeting away. Among its greatest hits: "No comment on the rumors that Bill Clinton has already asked to borrow me."
Facebook -- It only took minutes for a handful of "Binders Full of Women" pages to spring up on the billion-strong site. One had more than 291,000 likes on Wednesday afternoon. A Facebook group with about 4,000 members provided offerings including a riff on "Dirty Dancing" ("No one puts baby in a binder").
Website -- BindersFullOfWomen.com is quite a bit more serious than the rest of the field. Registered through GoDaddy on Tuesday night less than two minutes after Romney uttered the words, the site is funded by the liberal American Bridge political action committee. The already well-populated site addresses a host of women's issues, from domestic violence to health care.