We’ve innocently come to revel in our hatred of the U.S. president, and the Vegas sun is trying to kill us. The 28-ton blue bus with an enormous George Bush face on the side is parked off of Sunset Road, but the doors to its promising insides—“exhibits on how disastrous Bush/Conservative policies are”—aren’t open yet. So we—five people at first, then 11, then 20—cluster beneath a tree across the parking lot from the Service Employees International Union at 11 a.m. Friday. We stare at the words on the bus’ side: Economy in Crisis; Endless Iraq War; Healthcare’s a Mess; Record Gas Prices. Clearly we have some lamenting to do, and a 108-degree breezeless hell isn’t going to deter us.
The bus, a shiny, fuel-guzzling museum on wheels run by Americans United For Change, is on a two-month, 150-city tour reminding people that Bush sucks, and that he doesn’t suck alone, he sucks with the help of all Republicans. Bus spokesperson Julie Blust points that out when she finally gives a little pre-boarding speech from two feet of shade cast by an awning on the side of the bus: Sen. John Ensign and Rep. Jon Porter helped make our lives miserable by voting with the president 94 percent and 86 percent of the time, respectively, during the last full congressional term.
The sweat-soaked crowd groans and laughs and bonds in disgust, but mostly we just want to get on the damn bus, which is air-conditioned. While a few other activists speak words of dismay and hope for change, the crowd kibitzes:
“I once wrote Reagan a letter on toilet paper and told him what I thought of him,” says a retiree with an eagle on his cap. “I didn’t get a reply.”
“My mother was mentally incompetent and Reagan shut the mental hospitals,” says a woman. “I didn’t care for that.”
“We need to get on that bus, I’m perspiring now,” says another woman, dotting her forehead with Kleenex.
“I’m kind of afraid of McCain,” says another.
“But I don’t think Hillary’s husband was any good either.”
Finally the doors open. We ascend into the Bush Bash/AC. There, on every wall and the floor as well, are reproduced articles, photos and stats about Bush’s atrocities: Iraq, Katrina, Osama, 9/11, environment, economy, oil. It’s interesting, but maybe only 3.5 stars on the 5-star entertainment meter—I think I was expecting a life-size Bush doll that twanged “strategery” or something.
“There’s nothing new here that I didn’t already know, but it’s all in one place,” says an old man.
“It’s enough to make you want to vomit,” says another.
At the back stands a full-size gas pump dubbed “Bush and Cheney Oil Company: GOP (Grand Oil Party).” We pause there, on the fuel-sucking bus, basking in air-conditioning and drinking from provided plastic water bottles, and bitch about Bush’s oil and environmental policies. The bastard.
A young woman says, “This feels like a Holocaust museum.”
And a man replies, “If I could have only talked to Hitler.”
Now out of my political depth, I hop off the bus I feel refreshed. I’ve stopped sweating. I hate Bush. I head through the grass-lined roads of Green Valley to stay barely politically aware and full of hope for change.