Oprah orders her biggest supporter to cut it out. Also: We throw out questions to Katheryn's painter and the president's new buddy.

That’s ‘O’ for Overreaction 

Oprah orders her biggest supporter to cut it out. Also: We throw out questions to Katheryn's painter and the president's new buddy.

Perhaps Patrick Crowe knows Oprah Winfrey better than anybody thought. Crowe, a retired Kansas City teacher, continued to run his Oprah for President campaign, even after the talk show host’s attorney on August 22 sent him a five-page cease-and-desist letter.

Crowe told the Pitch that it was “highly unlikely” Winfrey would sue. Seems he might be right.

On Monday, Winfrey told The Associated Press that she thought her attorney overreacted. “I feel flattered by it," the 52-year-old talk-show host said Monday. "My lawyers overreacted, I think, by sending him a cease-and-desist order because it really is a flattering thing."

So Crowe is keeping up the Web site dedicated to the cause. And he'll continue selling "Oprah for President" goods, including T-shirts ($17.95) and his book on why Oprah should run ($24.97).

Last December, the Pitch met Crowe at an "Oprah for President" store he had opened at the Bannister Mall ("Merry Xmas From the Dead Malls," December 15, 2005). Crowe, who closed the shop after Christmas, says he lost a bundle on the place. He claims he has also lost tens of thousands producing the T-shirts and books.

But Crowe says the losses have been worth it, considering the hundred interviews he's done for media outlets, including CNN and the Daily Mirror in London. (One Q&A went sour: A radio host insistently asked if Crowe thought Winfrey was fat. "I said, 'Sir, a gentleman does not comment on whether a lady is fat.' He kept asking me, so I just didn't say anything. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that they don't like silence in radio.")

Crowe says his son and daughter-in-law in California form the "West Coast branch" of his operation, running the toll-free number (866-OPRAH08). His wife, however, isn't thrilled about his effort. "She thinks it's a little bit off the wall," Crowe says.

The campaign has taught Crowe a bit about security. After somebody began stealing the "Oprah for President" signs and T-shirts he had stapled to the fence of his Brookside home, Crowe hired a security company to set up a hidden camera. The system cost him $200 a week, and he next time the signs and T-shirts went missing, the camera's tape was rewinding and didn't record the theft.

Crowe figures Winfrey will see his effort as a free-speech issue. "People don't understand what Oprah has in mind."

Angry Artist

It's no surprise that some folks were pissed off when they learned County Executive Katheryn Shields would appear in a $100,000 mural on the ceiling of the county courthouse.

So we called the artist, Chris Doyle of Brooklyn, to see how our esteemed leader ended up in his fresco. Seems Doyle's a bit touchy on the subject.

The Pitch: When they first proposed putting Katheryn Shields in your mural, did you know who she was?

Doyle: They didn't propose putting her in there. I insisted that she be in it. And the fact that you're all coming down on her because I insisted she be in it is getting me in deep trouble. Because I insisted.

Why did you insist?

Why? Because it's a mural, and there's a historical tradition of doing paintings where there are things happening in the painting that are interesting in the long haul.... Katheryn is the kind of person who is important to the art program in Kansas City and is one reason Kansas City has such good art.... It's important to me as an artist that, in some way, we look at it in the long haul rather than the short-term. And that's why I insisted. And I have to be honest: She was resistant, and I convinced her.

Did she model, or did you use pictures?

I photographed 90 people. There were 37 people I finally put in the mural, based on, well, a lot of considerations. And everyone that I photographed, all 90 people, was the result of an open call in the building to anyone who worked in the building, at all levels. It was an extremely non-hierarchical kind of situation.

Anything about her features that struck you?

I'm really glad I called you back, buddy, you know? This is my art. This is my life. I take this very seriously. I treat it as a piece of art, and I think that's a reasonable approach to being a professional and being an artist. The poetry of the pieces is important to me, and I would appreciate it if you didn't reduce it to the point of petty, local squabbling.

Well, I'm respectful of that but —

I don't think so.

Can you see why people were concerned when they heard that Katheryn Shields would appear in it?

Well, no, I honestly don't, because my integrity is on the line here. There's a judge in the piece. Katheryn is in the piece. There are 35 other people, including maintenance workers, court clerks, lawyers. And these people end up being anonymous in, like, 10 years. They're anonymous. No one knows who they are. In the same way you look at a Thomas Hart Benton mural, you have no idea who they are. And so it's important to me that, like, people understand that. And I know that you're looking for a story. But what I do in the mural ends up being in your context, of the political climate in the town. But for me, there are other issues involved. And that's the best way I can explain it.

Shot With the Prez

President Bush didn't spend much time here during his recent trip to Kansas City. Most of the people he met had paid $1,000 to Sen. Jim Talent's re-election campaign for the privilege.

Not Gary Davis, the 6-foot-6-inch-tall retired cross-town bus driver who persuaded the occasional fare to join the National Rifle Association. The Kansas City Star snapped a photo of Davis, Bush's hand on his shoulder, the two laughing like old buddies.

Unarmed, we called Davis for an update on his activities.

The Pitch: How did you come to greet the president on the tarmac?

Sen. Talent's office invited me to meet him. Earlier this year, they invited me to meet the vice president [at the airport].

What did you and the president talk about?

I thanked him for defending the Second Amendment. I thanked him for service to the nation.

He likes to give people nicknames. Did he give you one?

No, he didn't. He asked me if my wheelchair was treating me right. I told him, 'Yeah, it was, that diabetes won the battle, but I'm going to win the war.' And that's when he smiled and patted me on the back.

Big campaign donors don't even get that kind of treatment, to be able to meet both the president and the vice president.

Well, I've been working on Sen. Talent's campaign ever since he ran for governor, plus both times as senator. I'm out there at Republican headquarters in Independence doing volunteer work five days a week. I'm retired now, so it's something I enjoy doing.

What was your last hunting trip like?

I got a buck ... back in November. We throw out some questions to Katheryn's painter and to the president's new KC buddy.

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