Ready or not, Decision 2008, here we come!

If you think Britney Spears — cavorting, the very day she announces she's getting divorced — or department stores — already putting up Christmas decorations — are getting ahead of themselves, fasten your seat belts.

The presidential campaign of 2008, a mere 727 days from now, is also off and running.

Thursday, Tom Vilsack, Iowa's two-term governor, filed papers to run for president; another household name — Duncan Hunter — yes, the Republican congressman from California, recently set up his exploratory committee.

There's precedent, of course, for getting a head start. Thirty years ago, a relative unknown, Jimmy Carter, started running when almost no one was looking. And look what happened to him.

So it makes a certain amount of sense to start now, or, to at least say that one might.

"It's fair to say you're thinking about running for president in 2008?" NBC's Tim Russert asked Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., last month on 'Meet the Press.'

"It's fair, yes," came the reply.

Early birds aren't foolhardy, especially unknowns who need what the anointed front-runners already have: Name recognition and money.

"You want the fundraisers," says Stephen Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University, "and you want them to give to you or to commit to you before they commit to someone else."

But to all this gearing up, so early, some say: enough, already. Aspiring candidate David Gatchell of Tennessee has even changed his middle name to "None of the Above."

"It just never ends, does it?" he says. "The political seasons now lap over each  other. I think people get tired of it."

So just when you thought the deluge of unwanted phone calls and attack ads were finished, brace yourselves. Political times are a 'changin; or, like wobbly Britney Spears on ice skates, are somehow out of whack.