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The weekend before the DNC: The American Presidential Experience

A willingness to make an ass of yourself is key to enjoying most things in life.

The American Presidential Experience, an exhibit that fills a good chunk of the parking lot at Invesco Field at Mile High, is pretty much what you'd expect -- in a good way. The primary displays -- including a replica of Air Force One (seen in the photo above) and the Oval Office -- are determinedly non-partisan, and my family, with whom I toured the tented lollapalooza on Saturday, enjoyed eyeballing them. But the most entertaining items are those showcased by the vendors, who had a commercially savvy bias toward a certain Mr. Obama.

Some of the pro-Obama T-shirts on sale, like ones that pictured him as either Superman or Batman, were pretty disturbing. Still, boosters of John McCain had to be less pleased with the garb featuring him -- including one dominated by an unflattering pic of his head along with the phrase "Electile Dysfunction." The same imbalance of power existed in the button area, which was staffed by affable New Yorkers, including one woman who pretended to forget McCain's name and another who good-naturedly tried to get a kid wearing a Colorado Rockies top to chant "Go Yankees!" Sure, there was an area devoted to McCain fare, but it was modest in comparison to the Obama stuff, such as a button that promoted the McCain-Methuselah ticket.

In the end, I bought some of each (including an excellent one featuring Obama and William Jennings Bryan, the other Democratic presidential aspirant nominated in Denver), because I have a cheesy political button collection. But my thirty or forty curios were dwarfed by the array of goodies assembled by arguably the most unusual vendor on hand: John Olsen, who calls himself "Dr. Vote." (A Rocky Mountain News profile of him from 2007 can be seen here.) When I spoke to the good Doctor, he was frustrated at his inability thus far to secure an invite to the August 25 Rock the Vote concert at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. He didn't give crap-one about the groups on the bill, including Fall Out Boy, N.E.R.D. and Jakob Dylan. He just wanted to score some Rock the Vote paraphernalia to supplement his astonishing cache of political doo-dads.

Godspeed, Dr. Vote. Godspeed. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts