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The week where crazy Republicans convened at Lake Eola for the obsolescence of Herman Cain, we played verbal paper-doll games with the primary candidates and then griped about the county's new property tax referendum. We wanna be a cowboy! Get off our land!

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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.

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