By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Tuesday, March 7, 2000. 9:15 p.m.: We enter the Sutton Place Hotel in—natch—Newport Beach, to partay at the state's Republican election-night headquarters. We are immediately faced with a small sign reading, "Media," beyond which (we deduce) lie sandwiches. We make a sandwich from the depleted deli trays, while the blonde in charge eyes us to ascertain that we are indeed working press. We're not sure if it's the leather pants or the slutty pigtails in charming lavender bows that make her suspicious, but we graciously reassure her and sail out of the room, sandwich held high.
9:19 p.m.: We travel several feet to the ballroom, from which a stampede emanates. The why is no mystery: a stageful of peppy urchins are "Celebrating America" in the most nasal manner. Their screeches are almost identical to those we hear outside our house when the entire neighborhood congregates to play World Wrestling Federation in our yard, at which point we have to scream out the window like a crack mom that if we hear one more kid yelling, we're gonna loose the rottweilers. USA! USA! Jazz hands, everybody!
9:26 p.m.: The lovable scamps have moved on to "Anchors Aweigh." We do a little soft-shoe.
9:27 p.m.: The risers in the back of the ballroom are crowded with news cameras, while the only people left seem to be clean-cut young reporters. They look ferociously bored. We mill about, trying to get on as many newscasts as possible. Did you see us? We grab a beer and balance it beneath our notebook as we write. We're good at that.
9:34 p.m.: The cherubs are chirping a rendition of Woody Guthrie's hippie-folkie love anthem "This Land Is Your Land." You recall, we're sure, that lots of groovy hippie folks advocate changing our national anthem from the bomb-and-rocket-filled "Star-Spangled Banner" to the fuzzy-wuzzy, graciously inclusive sing-along of Guthrie's biggest hit. Make love, not war! The kids are here to turn it into a jingoistic challenge to liberals. They shake pompons. Rah!
9:45 p.m.: A Bush supporter and a McCain supporter wave signs halfheartedly at each other, no doubt hamming it up for the cameras. The room is almost empty.
9:50 p.m.: Surfin' Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has taken the stage to ramble about the Strategic Defense Initiative. But don't take his word for it! Take the word of former Doobie Brotherand Steely Dan lead guitarist Skunk Baxter! The ponytailed, beret-wearin' Republican is apparently some kind of big expert. Fucking ponytailed motherfucker. Dana returns to whip the crowd into a Rollerball blood lust. "Do we live in the best city? Do we live in the best state? Do we live in the best country in the whole world?" Dana entreats, and the crowd goes nuts and starts gnashing and foaming and tearing the heads off live chickens. Now this is more like it! Dana disappears behind a curtain.
9:57 p.m.: We spot a hipster punk rock girl, with dyed black hair and Buddy Holly glasses, wearing a No on Knight sticker and waving a Bush sign. Her name is Natalie, and she is a senior at Newport Harbor High School. She gives us a No on Knight sticker because we were, until now, fitting in a little too well. You know, we love the gays. We do. (Although we hear from some of our girl-power friends that the ladies are falling off the lesbian tree left and right. We say love is where you find it, even if that's with someone of the opposite sex.) And it wasn't that long ago that California banned interracial marriage.
10:01 p.m.: The YAFers attack! We've been dreading it, and for just this purpose, we have corralled Jim the Futon Magnate (and former U.S. Marine) into attending with us—for protection. He smoothly pushes us out of the elevator in which we've been cornered, and as the YAFers (Young Americans for Freedom) clamor and bitch, he shoves us into another elevator just before its doors close. Nice moves, Jim the Futon Magnate!
10:04 p.m.: Yup, the YAFers are waiting for us in Jim Righeimer's hospitality suite. Surprisingly, the dirty tricksters—and so proud of it—are warm and gracious and just want to be loved. Is that so wrong? Former state chairman Brian Park, perhaps looking for just a little more notoriety, offers to escort us about the hotel. Too bad he's such an evil young man. Righeimer is a terrific guy except he carries the far-Right's water (he was responsible for Proposition 226, the Demonization of Teachers Act, two years ago; his strategy became so popular that even the "Center" guy on NPR's Left, Right and Centerquestioned whether then-gubernatorial candidate Gray Davis wasn't a little too cozy with teachers. They're teachers! TEACHERS!). Still, we adore Righeimer and his lovely, sweet supermodel wife, Lene. But Righeimer is losing badly in his campaign to replace termed-out Scott Baugh in the state Assembly. The victorious Tom Harman sent out a zippy four-page mailer calling Righeimer a deadbeat and outlining (with legal citations) several lawsuits and liens against him. It's no secret that he declared bankruptcy before the economy magically resuscitated itself; the mailer made him look like a big, fat creep. Come to think of it, it's very YAF—like their recent mailer accusing another candidate of poisoning dogs. We grab a beer from the bathtub.