Denver to St. Paul...

Hurricane Gustav makes a heck of a segue from Democratic to Republican conventions, but even through the roar of the storm the shift in political cultures hits you like a balloon drop...

The Dems made a huge point of massive recycling efforts at their weeklong mile-high Denver party. You couldn't throw away a chicken bone without confronting a phalanx of disposal bins marked with such exquisite nuance that a live volunteer had to man (or woman) each set of garbage cans to explain the breakdown of labels and symbols.

Recycling bins at the Pepsi Center
The sight of delegates and journalists dutifully trying to separate their compost from their landfill from their recycling items while juggling bags and notebooks and campaign signs was something to behold. Try it sometime, with a plastic-clad lunch, a can of Coke, half a leftover sandwich, a paper wrapper, untouched macaroni salad in a cup, and a disposable knife and fork. This may be the way to the green future, but it would be easier with "slow food" than convention food. By the end of the week, resolve waned. Wholesale chucking ensued.

GOP delegates and entourage opened their Twin Cities experience with a Saturday night bash along the Mississippi. Huge old silos now house a museum highlighting the great grain milling history of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Think "bonanza" farms and Pillsbury.

(Photo: Flickr/Kenny and Steve)
(Photo: Flickr/Kenny and Steve)

Next door, the elegant Guthrie performing arts center juts with a high architectural panache over the river.

The Guthrie Theater in St. Paul
(Photo: Flickr/mattdesmond)

And on a balcony at the tip of a cantilevered walkway, two charged-up middle-aged Republican guys (loafers, no socks) were talking Florida nature. Joking about goofy manatees lolling off Tampa, and how exposed they are to whirling propeller blades. Chop, chop, gone — and then such an uproar. Tee-hee.

"You know," said one, raising a beer for emphasis, "the problem with endangered species is ... they're not dead yet!"

(Flickr/The Zeppelin)
(Flickr/The Zeppelin)

Billboard from Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" greeting attendees to the RNC as they leave the Minneapolis airport:

"Welcome Rich White Oligarchs," with Jon Stewart and crew staring down like network news gods.

The February 2008 cover of Alaska Magazine
The February 2008 cover of Alaska Magazine

And what about Sarah Palin, Alaska governor, McCain VP pick, lifetime NRA member and happy hunter of big game?

"She's pretty," said the maintenance man at our maintenance-hungry Days Inn, miles from the city, out beyond the Mall of America parking lots. "Cindy better watch out."

Is she experienced enough?

"She's as experienced as Obama."

And this...

"I like her," said my shuttle bus driver from the airport. "She guts her own moose!"

Eats it, too, I read. For lunch, stewed.

Now that's slow food.

This program aired on September 1, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.


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