A few weeks ago, my little sister marveled at all the Obama signs around Denver. She grew up here, same exact house as me, literally right down the hall, but has since moved to Colorado Springs because she is crazy. Well, not crazy so much as lingering in a post-Colorado College kind of way, but the point remains: That town blows. It blows hard and it blows conservative — and by "blows conservative," I don't mean it gives a hummer to some male escort on the sly, then gets caught, apologizes, goes to a camp for a week to "fix" itself and is suddenly cured of the gay; I mean it sucks in a manner that is right-wing. And little Lydia, despite knowing deep in her bones that Denver is quite liberal, has been so mired in Colorado Springs tomfoolery that she'd almost forgotten that not everyone in the world is a crazy, militaristic Christian neo-con with a forehead the size of a drive-in movie screen — the classic Colorado Springs archetype modeled after Zebulon Pike himself, who was rumored to have had a forehead so large that Sears once offered to advertise on it. Roebuck found the idea demeaning.
Lydia's comments reminded me yet again of how completely and totally divided this country has become. I am not the first to point out that the current political landscape seems to have split the country into two warring camps, liberal and conservative, with few in either camp even attempting to understand the mindset of the other. But since I've always been able to rise above such partisan bickering, I decided to take my liberal ass to a Republican rally, to see how the other half lives in an attempt to better understand them and unite this country anew.
Or maybe just make fun of a large camp of conservatives — or, as it is called in nature, a "hate."
So on Monday, I was off to Loveland to see Sarah Palin, the Republican's current version of Elvis — except with no talent and a vagina — holding court at the Budweiser Events Center. I walked by the throngs lined up in the cold for a chance to see their heroine and checked in at the press entrance, whereupon an eleven-year-old in khakis and a McCain/Palin polo led me down to the floor.
"Of all the journalists I've walked to the floor, you by far have the least amount of stuff," the little dude remarked, taking in my single notepad.
Realizing he was about to expose me as a hack, I attempted to distract the kid by asking if he was excited to see Sarah Palin.
He was indifferent, he told me; his mom had signed him up for the detail.
"She's a moron," I told him. Then we walked in silence.
After about an hour of waiting, while the mostly red-clad audience attempted to chant Sarah Palin's name in unison, then do the wave, it was go-time. An all-star roster of Republicans — including Bob Schaffer, Wayne Allard and Marilyn Musgrave, who referred to herself in the third person, as "Musgrave" — spoke, then AC/DC's "TNT" played, and finally the theme music from Rocky brought out the woman of the hour, along with her smiling husband, Todd.
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After waiting so long, we deserved more than just a political talk, Palin announced in her Fargo-speak, and so she introduced country singer Hank Williams Jr. Clad in a cowboy hat and sunglasses, with a healthy amount of scruff in the face and a bright-orange Elway jersey, Williams came onto the stage with the swagger of an uncle who'll kick yer ass if ya back-sass him, grabbed the mike and, to the tune of the Monday Night Football theme, belted out, "Are you ready for some Sarah?"
I think the audience lost it — but I really couldn't hear anything other than the sound of my jaw hitting the floor.
Williams next sang the national anthem, a remake of his song "Family Tradition," replete with left-wing-bashing lyrics. Finally, Palin took back the mike and offered up twenty minutes of platitudes, from Joe the Plumber references to phrases like "ready to lead on day one," all swallowed hungrily by an adoring crowd of 5,000 or so. I'll say this about Sarah Palin: She's even better-looking in person. I'll also say this about Sarah Palin: Her pronunciation of the word "entrepreneurial" makes Bush's "nuclear" seem erudite. I tried to listen hard to her words, as she and McCain advise I do with that one, but it was such empty nonsense, such rah-rah, base bullshit, echoed by the obligatory boos and chants of a stadium full of people as squarely set in one way of thinking as I am in the other, that I began to feel ill. At the exact instant that Palin ended her speech, before the applause had even started, I bounded out of the events center, wondering if I was as terrifying to those people as they were to me. I decided I probably was.
So I sped back to Denver, my version of America, where we may sip fancy coffee, rub elbows with terrorists and tax the life out of hardworking Americans, but at least we don't listen to bad country music.