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That stench of aftershave and anger in the air can only mean one thing: It’s primary week and the Republicans are about to be all up in your face with throbbing neck-vein rhetoric! In order to prepare ourselves for it, we packed a flask, a cowboy hat (anonymity!) and half a tablet of shame and headed over to Lake Eola’s Walt Disney Amphitheater on Saturday, Jan. 21. The occasion was to be the Conservatives United 2012 event – a sort of clopping cavalcade of Republican has-beens congealed under a banner of “freedom” or something. It featured (as its main-stage entertainment no less) the 2012 blunder of the year known as Herman Cain. Mama, we’re all crazy now.

Just as we were squatting down into our seats at the fairly empty event, a certain bald gentleman representing a blunder of a different year moseyed on over to us.

“Ya’ll having a good time?” asked Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher as he shook our cowboy hand. 

“Well, actually, I do need some plumbing done at my … ,” but he was gone before we could get the kind of quote he (might) be qualified to actually give.

No worries, though, there were other sad moments of bleak entertainment to be enjoyed. A mom-rock cover band belted out fishnet versions of middlebrow favorites with only slightly political overtones; we’re not sure why “Black Velvet” was performed (wink) or the lyrics to “Goodbye to You”were altered for a dedication to everybody’s enemy, Barack Obama, but we’re certain it was all meant in good taste. Fairly quickly it became apparent that despite representations otherwise – event sponsors Americans for Prosperity, some FairTax concerns and the nonpartisan group Get Out of Our House (GOOOH!) implied a rebel-rousing grass-roots Tea Party theme – that this rally was a thinly disguised, probably pretty expensive homage to Mr. Monogamy, Newt Gingrich. There were “Newt” signs everywhere, with just a smattering – or smudge – of Santorum holdouts. Even our cardboard “Don’t Tread on Me” fans couldn’t disguise the Newt-ralityof it all; Newt himself was busy trouncing Mitt Romney up in South Carolina with a 15-point victory, so someone from his team – someone short and scary named Bill McCollum – showed up in his absence and performed an Asperger’s tantrum to the measured delight of the 200 or so attendees. Yawn.

In between a series of speeches – things called “Seizing Opportunity” and “How to vet a candidate,” each lasting five minutes, which makes sense when you consider that Cain was the day’s headliner – we wandered around a little and caught up with state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, who told us that he had just been informed that he was Americans for Prosperity’s legislator of the year 2011! In other words, he’s a Koch-head.Also, Plakon pointed out that the Daily Show episode in which everybody in Tallahassee pisses on each other would be airing on Tuesday, Jan. 24. “Now my kids think I’m cool,” he joked while explaining that he was asked to urinate in a cupwith a picture of Barack Obama in its bottom.

We managed to corner just-announced (and forever announcing) U.S. Congressional candidate Todd Long – he’ll be challenging Alan Graysonagain – who didn’t have much to say at all, but did feature fresh highlights on his signature flat-top of freedom to drive drunk. We also talked to perennial tax-hater, and 2011 candidate for county mayor, Matt Falconer for a minute about that Orange County property-tax referendum scheduled to be on the primary ballot. He’s against it, just like us, so we totally made out.

By the time Cain hit the stage around 6 p.m., we were fading. Cain’s old tropes about the “union is in trouble” and “we need a revolution” elicited their share of supportive heckling from people still wearing Cain paraphernalia, but they also sounded hollow against the knowledge that Cain was, just one night before, leading a fake campaign event in South Carolina with Stephen Colbert. His grass roots are tellingly patchy, see. But he still has a giant bus with his face on it! That’s what we call freedom.

And speaking offreedom, we’d be remiss if we didn’t toss in our opinions on the candidates who actually will be on the Jan. 31 ballot, because lord knows Happytown™ HQ is where you turn for wisdom. Who should you vote for? Well that depends on who you are.

If you’re voting for Mitt Romney, you’re probably comfortable in short-sleeve button-up shirts and khakis. You have to admit that you sometimes “enjoy” firing people.You’re a man’s man (or a desperate woman who has a thing for men’s men) who isn’t afraid of making large gambles, so long as they’re not large enough to register on your invisible tax records. You may or may not have been to the Cayman Islands – who can remember with all of those vacations? – but some of your money certainly has. You’re a Ken doll, or you like to play with Ken Dolls. You are sexy, confident and empty. You like to abuse animals. You’ve really made it, sir.

If you’re voting for Newt Gingrich, you have selective amnesia about your hero’s ’90s heyday as house speaker. Ethics? Who cares? Also, nobody has any business knowing how many wivesyou’re keeping, especially when one has cancer and the other is a trophy blonde. You tend to mouth off a lot, scream at the liberals on TV and probably do so in your one pair of coveralls. You’re not a racist, you just like to make jokes that only rednecks can laugh at.Everybody else can just fuck off. Freedom!

If you’re voting for Rick Santorum, you are a walking sweater vest of morality, but only the morality that is specific to people who are exactly like you. You have a creepy thing for dead babies, but so what? Everyone has skeletons in their closets. Sometimes they have big gay messes in their panties, too. Just ask Google.

And if you’re voting for Ron Paul, you’re annoyingly earnest and somewhat confused. You’re not the type to proofread things with your name on them, even if they are flat-out incendiary and racist. You like to think of yourself as independent, and, therefore, nobody has a right to say anything negative about you. You are beholden to nothing but obstinate didacticism, and you might just have an “antiestablishmentarian” tattoo across your lower back. You believe in small government, just small enough to fit between a woman’s legs. Also, you’re probably high and won’t remember voting. Dude! Democracy!

Political circus aside, there remains one non-charismatic item on the primary ballot for both parties: a slight bit of tax incentivizing courtesy of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. Jacobs has been fighting for this since her campaign days, and she failed to get it sent out as a single ballot earlier last year because it would be too expensive. The referendum offers businesses a 100 percent, 10-year property tax holiday if they promise to locate in the county and make jobs. Sound great? Well then you’re a totally perplexed Republican, aren’t you? You’re pro-business while making homeowners pick up the unpaid taxes for public services you keep complaining aren’t good enough. If you have any sense of reason left in your clattering head, you should just do us all a favor and vote no on this one. Use your aftershave and angereffectively. Stick it to the man! Freedom!


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