If David Wyatt is any indication, future presidents will do most of the following:
Wear a ponytail.
Sport six tattoos.
Drink Michelob Lite.
Reject corporate America.
Travel around the world, twice.
Wear muscle shirts to most White House functions.
Smoke Marlboro Lites.
Listen to Kid Rock.
Build their own tombstones.
And, for reasons still not entirely clear, kiss dead fish.
The year 2000 is David Wyatt's year. If you don't believe it, take a look at the ring on his pinky finger, the trailer he pulls behind his RV, his business cards, even the cement at the back door of his mother's house. They all say the same thing: DW2000.
"I've waited for this year my whole life," he says. "Everything I've ever lived for is happening now."
DW2000 is a slogan Wyatt came up with 20 years ago, before all the millennium hoopla -- "before anything was 2000," says Wyatt, a Chicago native who has called Riverview, Fla., his home the last two years.
When he was 16 years old, Wyatt, now 36, fell under the spell of a song from Pink Floyd's "The Wall" album called "Mother." The lines "Mother should I run for president/Mother should I trust the government" had such an impact on Wyatt that he dreamed he was president of the United States in the year 2000.
Since then, Wyatt has more or less been on the campaign trail. "At Halloween, when all the other kids would run around as Dracula or Frankenstein, I'd be 'David Wyatt for President,' and start campaigning," Wyatt said last week as he gapped spark plugs for his red Harley Lowrider in the driveway of his mother's home. "Sometimes a buddy of mine would be my bodyguard."
He steps into the "Presidential RV" in which he travels around the country. A small poster of all the U.S. presidents sits on the table.
Does he fit their image? I ask him.
Pointing to the statesmen of yesteryear, Wyatt says he does: "Some of them had wigs and shit. Some of them had ponytails, beards and goatees."
A map hangs on the wall of the 127-day, around-the-world cruise Wyatt recently completed. Many pictures document his adventures -- pictures of him drinking Dom Perignon and smoking a Cuban cigar; pictures of him in front of presidential palaces and lost cities; of him asleep, his head resting on the edge of a bar; of him kissing a fish as part of some weird cruise-ship ritual; and of him holding a bottle of Jack Daniels, playing disc jockey his last night on the ship.
Harper's magazine thought enough of his tales of bacchanalia, posted on his website, that it printed a collection of them in its February issue. Wyatt says the BBC and PBS have inquired about interviews. After The Economist did an article, he says, a cab driver in the Falklands even recognized him.
Wyatt was an unlikely district manager for financial-service companies until he quit several years ago. His experiences with lending money, and reaping profits, left him jaded with capitalism.
"I got fed up with all the bullshit," he says. "Corporate America wants to beat us up and make more money. It's all about stock. That's all they worry about. They put on their smiley faces for the public, but it's a ruthless world."
He's not against capitalism, he clarifies. He's against the overzealous pursuit of profits that cuts into the leisurely pursuits most Americans could enjoy if they weren't working so hard. This is the reason he supports a four-day work week.
"We're able to enjoy life so much more than we were 50 years ago," he says, "but we don't have the time."
He hasn't joined a political party, he says, because there's not many that would suit his ideological needs. He contacted the Pot Party, but got no response. Of the 24 people currently listed on Florida's fall presidential ballot, he's the only official write-in candidate.
Neither he nor any member of his family has ever held elected office.
"I've never wanted to do it that way," he says. "People say I should have started small and become a mayor or a congressman. But I never wanted to be a politician. I wanted to run for president as Joe Schmoe-off-the-street. I never wanted to be corrupted by the system. I wanted to offer myself as a regular person."
Wyatt campaigned for six months before he went on his most recent cruise around the world, mostly in bars in the eastern United States.
The first question he's typically asked? "Do you inhale?" Wyatt says with a laugh. "When I say 'yeah,' they say, 'You got my vote.' They don't care about any other issue I'm dealing with."
A stocky man wearing hoop earrings sits next to us at a tavern called Captain Jack's. Eventually Wyatt hands the man a business card, which he studies for maybe 20 seconds.
"What's your stats, man?" the guy asks. "Have you done any accounting ... been a politician ... mayor ... anything?"
Then he asks, "If you get elected, can we legalize pot?"
Wyatt laughs and says to me, "See what I mean?"
Later, we ride to a biker bar called Daddy Wigglers in Ybor City. The bar isn't a rough-and-tumble hangout. Ages, sizes and sexes of the patrons varies. Everyone is nice and seems to be caught up in a raffle for T-shirts and money. Two Harleys roar through the front door for the "Best Bike of the Night" award. Wyatt, in one of the most genuine gestures by a presidential candidate to a reporter this year, asks the raffle girl to flash her breast at me, which she does.
Much later, Wyatt walks me out to say farewell. A girl stands next to her parked Yamaha. Impulsive to the last, Wyatt hops on her bike and pretends to be riding down the highway. It is funny to see how much the big man dwarfs the bike. Before he gets off, he flashes two thumbs up. It's not quite the Nixon peace sign, but it's good for a laugh.
That's David Wyatt. Ambassador of a good time. Patriot of the partiers. Head of the hedonists. The only American cruising toward the White House one bar at a time.
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