Bush Arrives For Convention in St. Paul -- Nebraska
"This is so exciting," said Ethel Strahan of rural St. Paul as she was strip-searched on the town's brick-lined main street. "I realize they have to violate my rights to protect the President and me from the terrorists and I'm just pleased as punch that he's come to visit."
St. Paul Mayor Willard Ross disclosed in a press conference attended only by the editor of the town's weekly newspaper that the Republican National Committee (RNC) had contacted him in a panic Monday after Hurricane Gustav spared New Orleans and it became apparent that the unpopular president might try to appear at the GOP's 39th national convention. RNC officials asked Ross for his cooperation after they convinced Bush that the party's nominating convention was being held in rural Nebraska to prevent an embarrassing Bush appearance at the event's actual site in St. Paul, Minnesota.
"They just flat-out didn't want him there," said Mayor Ross, on the town hall's wooden steps. "It's hard to imagine folks not liking Mr. Bush, but I hear that most of the country now thinks he's the worst president in U.S. history, so what are ya gonna do?"
Bush spoke to a crowd of 12 maintenance workers who happened to be at the small town's fairgrounds cleaning up from the recent county fair and remarked on how excited he was to be there.
"I'm thrilled to be here in St. Paul for the convention," said Bush, as tumbleweeds and corndog wrappers blew past his feet. "I expected bigger crowds for the convention but it's still exciting to be in one of our most important coastal states."
Meanwhile, Diane Marvicka the manager of the town's best hotel, the Super 8, was grateful for the business and said it was exciting to meet Bush, who carried the town in the 2004 election with over 80 percent of the vote.
"With the president, Secret Service guys and all the other people, this is the first time I've been sold out since the big Central Nebraska Tractor Pull and Pig Races in 1997," said a harried Marvicka. "But George seems like a real nice guy -- though he was disappointed that we close the pool so early and that we no longer get Cartoon Network with our cable TV."
Sid Badura, owner of the Bum Steer Saloon on main street, enjoyed a brisk business as the president stopped in looking for convention delegates and to play the bar's old-style Space Invaders game.
"It's nice to have him here and everything," said Badura. "But I'm not real crazy about how the Secret Service came in and made me hide all my Jack Daniels. I know the president's had a bit of a problem, but that's not going to go over with a lot of my customers."
"And, by the way, isn’t the Republican convention in Minnesota?"
Mayor Ross, who was busily trying to organize the town's 2,000 residents into a "pretend convention" to maintain the RNC's ruse, looked tired but kept a smile on his face.
"I'll tell ya, I voted for him twice, but that boy is as dumb as a bag of rocks."