;This wildly popular column will go anywhere for a story. Especially if someone else is paying for the flight — somebody like the loaded-for-bear liberal organization MoveOn.org, which doles out "travel scholarships."


;;Thus, we dispatched correspondent Jeffrey C. Billman to tag along with local activist Sandra Diaz and University of Central Florida professor Spencer Downing to United for Peace and Justice's rally in Washington, D.C., Jan. 27. Billman reports:

;;Goddamn, it was cold. And crowded. For as far as you could see along the National Mall, there were people. Hippies, activists, kids, old people, union types, crazies. Lots and lots of crazies. Hate to say it, because we're all here for a good cause, but the 9/11 Truth conspiracy nuts really irritated me. Downing postulated that those guys were CIA plants.

;;The march had star power: the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Cindy Sheehan, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins (who I saw smoking a cigarette!), Hanoi Jane Fonda and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who speaks like he's choking on a pile of ash, among others. Robbins told us impeachment wasn't off the table. Sarandon bemoaned the lack of supplies to our troops. Almost everyone agreed Bush is a moron.


;Then, about 1:30 p.m., we set off marching. We traveled around the Capitol; on a sightseeing note, it's hard to capture how physically impressive this structure is unless you've circled it on foot.


;I tried to inject a little levity into the affair. I asked Diaz to carry around a "Boobs not bombs" poster. I was hoping the hippie chicks would flash us, but it didn't happen. Diaz also posed for pictures with the Missile Dick Chicks, who, as the name suggests, were women with plastic missiles protruding from their nethers. Hot.

;;There was a teensy counterprotest consisting of the last 30 people on the earth who don't think Bush is a dumbshit. But they do get credit for the day's most clever sign: "If Osama was a piece of ass, Clinton would have nailed him."


;We also dispatched a;correspondent to the far-flung reaches of Winter Park to document the 80-or-so-strong protest put on by CodePink Women for Peace and UCF's Campus Peace Action and Students for a Democratic Society. Billy Manes reports:

;;Oh, the honking!


;"Honks for peace!" screamed a protester.


;"I hate honks for peace," mumbled another.


;The protest turned into a march that took it up, down and across Orlando Avenue, with only a few angry gas-guzzlers — many with Great War–gray hair — throwing middle fingers and shouting, "Go home, hippies!" My favorite, though, was the 20-something mom with a baby in her passenger-side child seat who saw fit to, with one hand already holding the cell phone to her ear, use the other one for a protracted up-and-down thumbs-down. Safety first, fascist housewife!


;;Speaking of everyone'sfavorite war, it's time to check in with the National Priorities Project (www.nationalprioritiesproject.org), who have taken it upon themselves to help you understand just how much Bush's big adventure really costs.


;;When last we visited the NPP's website [Happytown™, Aug. 31] the Iraq war had cost Orange County $1.2 billion, and every citizen of Orange County $1,196! (Figures are derived from Congressional Research Service Reports and are based on Florida's tax contribution to federal revenues.) With the big surge coming, the NPP has been hard at work updating their figures. Orange County has now spent $1.4 billion or so, which means each and every county resident (2005 population estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau: 1,002,849) has chipped in $1,396. You didn't need it anyway!


;;The NPP provides a handy chart for each congressional district detailing what the federal government could have spent that war booty on, but didn't. It's sobering. In Ric Keller's district, the war money could have bought health insurance for 149,619 kids, built 8,123 units of affordable housing or built 123 new elementary schools.


;The Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation isn't going to like this one bit.

;;In December, the Citizen's Police Review Board asked the Orlando Police Department to reopen its internal affairs investigation into two OPD cops who worked undercover on "Operation Overexposed" for the MBI in 2004. That sting focused on drug dealing and violations of Orange County's adult ordinance codes inside Cleo's Gentlemen's Club, a strip club on Orange Blossom Trail that predominantly caters to blacks [see "Operation Overexposed," Sept. 22, 2005].


;;After the arrests that followed the sting, a number of the club's employees complained that officers James McGriff and James Carlies Jr., the undercover agents, had behaved inappropriately, exposing their genitals and fondling the dancers, behavior that is also in violation of the law. Three dancers filed complaints with OPD, but an internal affairs investigation discounted the polygraphs two of them took and ruled the cops had done nothing wrong.

;;Calling it a whitewash, the dancers asked the review board to look into the cases. Over the MBI's strenuous objections, the board did, and ruled that the internal affairs investigation had indeed been lackluster.

;;But that board has no regulatory power. Instead, it was up to OPD Chief Mike McCoy to follow or ignore the board's recommendations. Follow them he did. In a Jan. 17 letter, OPD polygraph administrator Billy Rakes said that, at McCoy's direction, he wanted internal affairs to reopen the case, re-polygraph the accusers and ask the two cops to submit to lie-detector tests as well.


;We'll keep you posted.


;In our ongoing effort to keep you apprised whenever a Central Florida resident appears on reality TV, we note that the Starlings of DeLand — mom Stephanie, hubby John, son Justin and daughter Samantha — are starring in the Feb. 5 episode of ABC's super-stupid hit Wife Swap. If you haven't seen the show, it works like this: Two families trade moms for a couple of weeks, then at the end of it, everyone tells everyone else what shitty people they are and how they are screwing up their kids. Then everyone hugs and cries.

;;According to the presser, the Starlings go all-out to support Justin's aspirations to be a professional motocross racer. Which is cool, except daughter Samantha suffers mightily.

;;The Starlings are trading moms with the Sweany-Ernest family, a clan of neo-hippies from Washington State who wonder how Justin can scar the earth with his dirt bike. They make him build an altar and apologize to Mother Nature for the damage he has wrought. Freaks.

;;This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes and Bob Whitby.


; happytown@orlandoweekly.com

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