WASHINGTON, D.C. - Here’s a thought experiment: Transport your imagination back a decade to October 2005. Saddam Hussein is on trial in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina has just devastated the Gulf Coast and Michael Jackson has been acquitted of child molestation. Early speculation about the 2008 presidential election is percolating. Two names crop up that aren’t on the lists of the usual suspects. One is a first-term Democratic senator whose highest prior office was state senator; the other one is a twice-divorced real estate and gambling billionaire from New York City who has never run for public office and who isn’t a card-carrying Democrat or Republican. Which one seems more preposterous?