It was an almost biblical experience, somewhere between a whale's belly and Sodom and Gomorrah, one way or another, in the belly of the beast, where Rush Limbaugh proudly declared he hoped Obama would fail. And he is not alone. There were thousands of people at this event who choose ideology and single issues over America.
It started off at the parking lot. I entered the lot elevator with a man who already had a badge. His name looked familiar, so I asked him, "Bob Ney. Your name rings a bell. Should I know you?" He replied that he'd been a member of congress (OH-R) until he worked with Jack Abramoff, after which, George Bush gave him free rent for a year at some federal real estate-- ie., he did a year in federal prison for corruption. Nice guy. Actually, it's hard to imagine someone who held congressional office for 26 years not being able to present as a nice guy. Now he does radio interviews for talk radio and of course, he gets his full congressional retirement pension.
We arrived at the hotel (my son Ben and I. Ben was doing audio and video,) picked up our media passes and headed to the restaurant or breakfast with Thom Hartmann, one of the few other lefties in attendance. While we were eating, Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition sat at the next table.
Check him out on wikipedia and we learn he lost a job for plagiarism and was also accused of fixing an election.
After breakfast, we headed down to the exhibit hall. It was impressive, at least five times the number of exhibitors you see at the left's largest gathering-- formerly call Take Back America and now, thank God, called, America's Future.
Almost as soon as we enterd the exhibit hall, we found radio row and it was loaded with celebrities. The first one I saw was former Texas congressman, Tom Delay, who resigned because of the mess of corruption charges he was harried with.
Notice a theme here? Corruption, corrupted people?
Joe Scarborough was standing up, during a break in the radio broadcast he was doing with Mika Brzezinski. He saw DeLay and warmly welcomed him, "Come on and sit down," he called, inviting DeLay to an interview. What the hell. They were buddies in congress. When you're thinking that Joe Scarborough has become a more bi-partisan kind of guy, remember that warm reception of Tom DeLay. That right wing love goes deep. He's no friend of the left, not that he claims to be. Joe looked to be at least 6'3". Mika wore very high, at least 4", maybe 5" heels.
I turn a few more degrees and there's Newt Gingrich, who came in a distant fifth place in the CPAC 2009 straw poll, behind Mitt Romney, who came in first, Sarah Palin, who tied with Ron Paul for 2nd, then Bobby Jindal. There WAS a long booksigning line for him. One young twenty something gushed to me that he'd read everything Newt had written. "Including his novels?" I inquired. "He wrote novels too?" he replied.
I talk with the radio row organizer a bit and we get the table Joe and Mika have been using, since they've just finished up. While they're clearing the gear, we walk the aisles. Incredible all the ANTI orgs there are in the conservative world-- anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-tax, anti-government, anti-gun control. The NRA has a big presence there. So does Sarah Palin, in terms of supporters. I interview the leader of a "recruit Sarah for 2012"group. Here's an image of another booth giving out free posters of Sarah. Funny, I just didn't feel the need for one.
We get back to radio row and there's Grover Norquist, the guy who wants to starve government so it's small enough to drown it in a bathtub. He's kinda short so we'd really have to shrink government to make it happen. This image REALLY needs a caption. Please use the comments to suggest one.
I interview an American Petroleum Institute economist, but it is straight propaganda. He's good at his job and not interesting radio. Next, I'm talking to Ron Hartenbaum, Thom Hartmann's manager. We're talking about the state of progressive talk radio. I ask if I can interview him and we start up recording. Fascinating stuff, given that as of today, Thom Hartmann no longer works for Air America. More on that in an article tomorrow and the interview will air on Wednesday.
As the day moved on, I encountered more interesting right wingers.
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