Monday, March 29, 2004

THE DEAD PARROT SOCIETY is impressed by an atypical protest.
The protests in mid-March that greeted President Bush on Long Island for a $2,000-a-plate fund-raiser after the groundbreaking for a nearby 9/11 memorial seemed pretty typical at first. The crowd of 200 or so activists carried the usual placards denouncing war, oil and environmental policies. One Sierra Club member wore a doormat decorated with tufts of glued fuzz to resemble, she said, ''Mothra, the giant moth that defeated Godzilla.'' Across a vast artery of screaming traffic stood the Bush supporters, maybe 50 people. A small blond girl waved a big flag. Then a new group of Bush supporters tumbled out of a van on the wrong side of the street.

The men handsome in tuxedos and top hats and the women stunning in ball gowns with elbow-length gloves, they marched boldly past the protesters. They shouted, ''We want Bush!'' One placard they held up read, ''Because He's Just Like Us.'' Hisses traveled through the body of the mob, as a policeman stopped traffic so they could cross. Applause erupted from the ranks of the flag-wavers at the arrival of such beautiful people. Pro-Bush people happily backed up, ceding the most prime piece of their ''free speech zone.'' Then it happened. Halfway across the street -- in that moment of eerie suspension as the bare flick of a police officer's hand caused the dragon of traffic to pause -- you could see the epiphany. The newcomers unfurled their giant banner: ''Billionaires for Bush.'' The revelation -- is this somebody's idea of joke? -- moved across the faces of the crowd like a wave undulating through a sports arena. Amid the hand-drawn placards, the Billionaires unsheathed their professionally printed, brightly colored laminated posters.

''Leave No Billionaire Behind.''

''Corporations Are People Too.''

There's more.

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