I just looked at my Twitter account, and people are buzzing over the possibility that Beto O'Rourke might announce his 2020 presidential candidacy — by writing it on cupcakes.

Bernie Sanders — you know, the old man who encouraged us to "Feel the Bern" three years ago — is back again, even more socialist than he was in 2016. And folks cannot get enough of it.

And don't get me started on New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being splashed everywhere. She fits right in with what the nation likes to see: quirky politicians acting out of the norm, if there is such a thing as norm nowadays.

Do we not remember what happened three years ago when an overbearing, ego-driven, billionaire-turned-outrageous-reality-TV-star decided he wanted to take a pay cut and run for president with promises to "drain the swamp" and prosecute his Democratic opponent? Quirkiness and edginess drove him from Wall Street to Pennsylvania Avenue in the blink of a ballot ... all because he was outside the box. Heck, he was 1,000 miles outside of the box, and his backers hung on every word.

Ocasio-Cortez and O'Rourke are the latest flavor du jour in America's ongoing love affair with out-there, over-the-top politicians. They now are mentioned solely by their first names or initials, Beto or AOC. That has taken the extra mile to a whole new level of stardom.

Calling someone by one name or initials or first names means they are firmly ensconced in America's conscience. Oprah ... Elvis ... Gaga ... JFK ... FDR ... BA ...

OK, I just threw that last one in there to see if you were paying attention. But you get the picture. All it takes is one word or initials to know exactly who you are talking about.

And right now, the political world is OC over AOC and Beto.

To me, when I hear "Beto" or "AOC," I think more of a form or testing or an acronym rather than fresh political faces. I guess it eventually will grow on me.

The nation's romance with political quirk is a concept almost as old as time, only now with the gigantic spin machines we have, it just gets out faster and stays out there longer.

Imagine if we had all this spin around back in the days of the Founding Fathers. The colonists would all be buzzing over "George," "Benny Frank," "TJ" and "Alex."

Voters just love different. Look at Minnesota in 1999 when the Gopher State went goofy for Jesse Ventura. The idea that an entertainer from something so culturally vile as professional wrestling could someday run a state probably was hard to swallow. But Minnesotans (not to mention wrestling fans and other Americans) happily ate it up to the point where quirks just make a candidate more appealing. And Ventura went on to win the governorship.

Fast forward to 2008 and Sarah Palin. Talk about your continental divide. Here was someone tucked away up in Alaska who burst onto the political scene and chewed up the scenery along the way. If anything, she overshadowed the top of the Republican presidential ticket, and John McCain became HER running mate instead of vice versa.

Unfortunately, there is a fine line between quirky and cartoonish, and folks like Jesse Ventura and Sarah Palin quickly crossed it with their continued outrageous statements and actions — him with his conspiracy theories, and her with, well, just about everything she said or did.

People soon grew weary of them to the point where they simply were written off as something akin to a cartoon character ... interesting to experience, yet way too outlandish to be 100-percent believable.

But people like Jesse Ventura and Sarah Palin opened the door for people like Donald Trump and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to walk through and take their spots as cartoons or cartoons-in-waiting ... Trump's over-the-top personna and Twitter-baiting, and Ocasio-Cortez's little-girl-riding-a-unicorn and dancing-on-social-media personality.

It's disheartening because whatever message or platform these people are running on — and I am not defending any platform here — wilts and dies in the shadow of outlandish behavior. Trump's ideas about strengthening the economy not just took a back seat to what he said, tweeted and did, it practically wound up in the trunk next to the jack. And the aura around Ocasio-Cortez swallowed up any thought-provoking plans she might have had for serving her constituents.

It's because of those cartoonish pioneers that our nation's political dialogue is what it is now. In the past, when we spoke of political topics, we talked about taxes, the economy and other kitchen-table issues. But thanks to DT and AOC, we now add to that dialogue snowflakes, "beautiful" walls and pooting cows.

Pretty soon, the tide will turn and we will find some other shiny new quirky objects to love on politically. Ventura and Palin now are basically trivia-contest answers. Maybe today's quirks will follow their lead on that, too.

I can't wait for the day when snowflakes and pooting cows will go back to their rightful place in media ... on the Weather Channel and the Cartoon Network, respectively.

Bill Atkinson is assistant editor and political columnist for The Progress-Index. Reach him at 804-722-5167 or batkinson@progress-index.com. On Twitter: @BAtkinsonpi