Sunday, March 28, 2004

Billionaires for Bush.

Surreal Protest-Support Rallies

The men handsome in tuxedos and top hats and the women stunning in ball gowns with elbow-length gloves, they marched boldly past the protesters. They shouted, ''We want Bush!'' One placard they held up read, ''Because He's Just Like Us.'' Hisses traveled through the body of the mob, as a policeman stopped traffic so they could cross. Applause erupted from the ranks of the flag-wavers at the arrival of such beautiful people. Pro-Bush people happily backed up, ceding the most prime piece of their ''free speech zone.'' Then it happened. Halfway across the street -- in that moment of eerie suspension as the bare flick of a police officer's hand caused the dragon of traffic to pause -- you could see the epiphany. The newcomers unfurled their giant banner: ''Billionaires for Bush.'' The revelation -- is this somebody's idea of joke? -- moved across the faces of the crowd like a wave undulating through a sports arena. Amid the hand-drawn placards, the Billionaires unsheathed their professionally printed, brightly colored laminated posters.

''Leave No Billionaire Behind.''

''Corporations Are People Too.''

The Billionaires popped corks and drank bubbly from flutes. Huge cigars and cigarette holders appeared.

When the Billionaires started a chant -- ''Tax Work Not Wealth'' -- the pro-Bush folks shouted back, ''Tax Cuts!'' But irony has a toxic effect on earnestness. The counterchant quickly faded, and right away the anger began to smolder.

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