August 3, 2000
to Al Gore: Whatever you do in LA, do not give your delegates
yard-long inflatable penises.
On the last night
of the Republicans Philadelphia convention, George W's followers,
male and female, young and old, were provided plastic phalli known
as ThunderStix, which they diligently blew up and banged together
with pre-Freudian abandon. Believe me, the full bacchanalian scope
of that night did not come across on television. I found myself
deep in the heart of the Texas delegation, pressed up against
various body parts and sweat-soaked garments belonging to men
and boys in ten-gallon hats. Stoked into a frenzy of compassionate
conservatism, the Texans screamed and flailed wildly, inadvertently
beating me with their ThunderStix for three solid hours. Thankfully,
ThunderStix are the least menacing of all the long, narrow objects
that Republicans are accustomed to wielding, including baseball
bats, rifles and fetuses in jars.
at the base of ThunderStix read, "TO INFLATE: Hold
plastic open with thumbs and fingers. BLOW IN HERE UNTIL
When I had first
arrived on the floor, there was no shortage of air or space. I
ambled around at will, noting that each empty chair was bedecked
with a flat, oblong, plastic casing in either red, white, or blue.
Little did I know. I focused on the handmade signs, all bearing
suspiciously similar messages, paint strokes and coloring techniques.
I traced the work of one anonymous artist from his or her "Montana
Bush" to "W.V.
Cheney." The best homespun poster: "Coherent Foreign
wanted to know if "alternate" delegates to the
convention were disappointment by being so deemed. One alternate
produced his badge of alternativeness. "I think a medal
that says Alternate is kind of amusing. I guess
its better than a certificate that says Honorable
Alternate Delegate and Supervisor of Yolo County, CA
By 8:00, I was struck by the overwhelming smell of hard liquor.
The show had started, and most of the delegates had taken their
seats and were gripping their newly inflated plastic sausages.
I caught the following exchange between George W and Laura on
the arena's gigantic video screen:
GWB [to Laura]: You're an intellectual
Laura [laughing]: I was one.
George W's ability
to suck the brain power from anyone he touches in person or in
video was demonstrated during the roll call: delegates responded
to each state's declaration by thrusting their kielbasas and whooping
or chanting at any mention of basketball, wedgies or Hillary Rodham
unknown whos going to crash on the scene like a meteorite."
John O. Matson, a Rhode Island delegate speaking about
his friend Bob Tingle (pictured), a candidate for the House
seat representing Rhode Islands second district.
I was now standing in an aisle surrounded by people who
were all wearing white cowboy hats, with the exception of George
Stephanopoulos, his producer and cameraman. I realized a little
too late that Stephanopoulos and I, as the least enthusiastic
and the shortest people in the Texan mash, had much to fear when
the Lone Star state got its moment of roll call glory. Indeed,
the people around me started screaming and winging hats as high
as they could, and all I could do was watch the projectiles spin
towards the stadium ceiling and then pick up speed as they fell
towards my head (which I couldn't shield because my arms were
pinned to my sides by the crowd). Only one hat actually hit me,
and its plastic faux-straw weave hurt just a bit.
was trying to deflect a florid, middle-aged Texan who was glaring
at him and saying what seemed to be words of drunken menace that
I unfortunately couldn't catch due to the twanging of penile balloons
and the chant "Help is on the way." Once the ABC crew
escaped, four boys crammed in front of me, and I saw that one
of them held a sign clearly painted by him personally that read,
"Bush is Bueno." I had about fifty of Modern Humorist's
more subtle campaign
stickers with me, and I decided to risk distributing them.
The stickers were such a hit that the boys put
them on their white hats.
a democratic delegate, but Im two weeks early for
Freddie (pictured), a delegate from Trappers
"I would have had to sit next to Fred."
Robert Shipley, alternate Alaskan delegate, finding
a silver lining in not being a full-fledged delegate.
After Governor Tom
Ridge (R-PA) and Brooks & Dunn ("If you're a country
fan of any type at all, you'd know them," explained a Texan),
and one last compassion video, He appeared. In the flesh, He looked
tiny and dull after the Ten-Minute Love we had just seen on the
big screen. I may have been alone in this observation. The sight
of Him sent everyone else into a panic. They waved hats, signs,
and yes, the ill-advised dildo balloons. Hooting, hollering, clapping,
whistling, stomping, squealing, whooping, chanting, ThunderStixing,
BushBushBushBushingthe display made me question just how
much difference there is between political expression here and
anchor Peter Jennings shortly before exchanging off-camera
pleasantries with Philadelphia Mayor John Street. "Im
Peter Jennings. Thanks for the hospitality. Your town
is great." A floor access page standing next to
MH asked, "Was he being an asshole?"
Soon George W hit
education, declaring, "local people should control local
schools." One of the boys exclaimed, "I love that point."
But when W delved into the tax code, the boy, whom I will now
call the Pundit, hunched over his cell phone and crowed, "I
have four new messages! That's people telling me they saw me on
TV, I betcha." His attention later returned to the speech
when W intoned, "my administration will deploy missile defenses
to guard against attack and blackmail." "That's what
I want," said the Pundit. He also heartily approved of the
way W was delivering the string of "risky scheme" jokes.
"It's good that he's not smiling because that means he's
But even zealots grow weary. When W said that his administration
would give "low-income Americans tax credits to buy the private
health insurance they need and deserve," I saw a sixtysomething
woman in a red, white and blue sequined vest and baseball cap
nodding off in her seat. The poverty and homelessness part of
the speech wasn't going over well with the Pundit either. "Think
this is a little long?" he asked. "Yeah," replied
one of his buddies. But the spirit returned when W uttered the
magic words "life of the unborn." My boys let out a
sustained "Yaaaaaa!" with their fists pumping in the
air. It was then that I spotted an abandoned ThunderStick on the
floor. I bent down to fetch it, my fear of getting squashed outweighed
by my need to bring proof of this deeply unsexy fertility rite
to the outside world.
abortion on, W paused for scripted mayhem after almost every sentence.
The mob presciently chanted "It won't be long now" about
fifteen applause lines before W said that slogan himself. Meanwhile,
the boys were readying their cameras for the final release: the
red, white and blue balloon storm. I stopped taking notes and
did the sameit seemed more important to prepare for things
dropping on my head than to listen to the end of W.
The confetti blizzard hit first, then the balloons started flowing
to the tune of "Signed Sealed Delivered," which was
syncopated by the pops of thousands of balloons as they slipped
between bodies and under cowboy boots. As the closing prayer was
delivered, I experienced the new and uncomfortable sensation of
sticky legs and ankles resulting from standing up to my waist
in balloons. The throng started loosening up, in body count (as
some headed for the exit) and in body language (as those who remained
squirmed to Chaka Khan's rendition of her 16-year-old song "I
Feel for You.") The boys pushed towards the stage, where
the speakers and presenters from the entire convention were now
milling around awkwardly the way the cast of "Saturday Night
Live" mingles at the end of a show. Besides Chaka's backup
singers, the only one on stage who could dance was Windy Smith,
the 26-year-old with Down's Syndrome. Unlike those around her,
Smith comes by her retardation honestly.
As I pushed my way towards an exit carrying my notebook, my red
phallus and the sweat of Texans, a woman wearing a patriotic vest
adorned with a rhinestone Bush 2000 brooch gripped my shoulder
as I passed. "I had a very terrible time," she said.
"I hope you had a better time."
Copyright 2011 Modern Humorist, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
Modern Humorist is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.