The gigantic plane looked all peaceful and quiet in the Labor Day sunset, but on the highway no one was going anywhere. One guy got out of his car and climbed up on the concrete divider. We rolled down our windows in time to hear some older lady yell "George W. Bush is in town."
From the tone of her voice, it was impossible to tell whether she was happy about it. She sounded oddly impassive -- like a Missourian besieged by the endless campaign summer and, after nine presidential visits since the first of the year, entirely unimpressed by the sight of his plane on her hometown runway.
I'd been out of town, so I'd missed the e-mails from Bush-Cheney '04 alerting me to the president's visit. The sight of Air Force One was my welcome home from a long, peaceful weekend far away from my battleground state.
As it turned out, though, I wouldn't need press credentials to hear the president's speeches the next day. By 11:17 on Tuesday morning, Bush-Cheney '04 had e-mailed a transcript of the president's 8:30 a.m. remarks -- complete with audience responses -- to an invited audience at Lee's Summit High School.
Most Kansas Citians probably only read about it in The Kansas City Star or caught a few seconds on the local TV news or heard the sound bite of the day picked up by the cable networks. ("My opponent ... woke up yesterday morning with yet another new position. And this one is not even his own. It is that of his one-time rival, Howard Dean.") But it's the Pitch's responsibility to let readers feel the full effect of the experience themselves.
To wit, some crucial exerpts:
I'm going to give you some reasons to put me back in, but perhaps the most important one of all is so that Laura has four more years as the First Lady. (Applause) Which is an endearing aw-shucksy crowd-warmer, but c'mon. The most important reason to re-elect Bush is so his freakin' wife can stay in the White House? Even Bush couldn't possibly believe this, so from the very beginning he was lying.
Madame Mayor is with us today, Mayor Karen Messerli. I appreciate her coming. Madame Mayor, I'm honored you're here. Thanks for taking time to be here today. Appreciate your support. Fill the potholes. (Laughter)
At 11:19 a.m., while the president was cracking pothole jokes, another e-mail arrived at the Pitch. This one clearly wasn't from Bush-Cheney '04. Its subject line: "34 Killed, Including an American in Sadr City."
See, it's really important in this country to vote. I want the high school kids who are here to understand, if you live in a free country, I believe you need to vote. (Applause)
Lee's Summit High School spokeswoman Janice Phelan tells the Pitch that around a quarter of this year's senior class of approximately 600 students will be 18 by November -- and hey, 150 votes for George Bush just might make the difference in Missouri. Nonetheless, 200 angry suburbanites immediately sent the school board a letter wondering why their school had been hijacked for a Republican pep rally and demanding equal time for John Kerry.
And when you register people to vote, remember that example Zell Miller set the other night.
Would that be the one when the lunatic senator from Georgia furiously told MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "I wish we lived in the day when you could challenge a person to a duel"?