11:48 a.m.: Arrive at Orange County Fair with wife Lea at invitation of OC Libertarian Party (OCLP). Present parking pass. Am informed by slacker attendant that pass is good only for Orange Coast College parking lot. Shell out five bucks. Park. Smoke.
11:53: Walk to entrance. Am handed free root beer. Momentarily forget parking-related annoyance. Annoyance returns when denied entrance due to free root beer. Finish drink. Sign informs me that "The Lemon Drop Will Not be Featured at the OC Fair." Mourn loss of Lemon Drop. 11:55: Enter Fair. Hear elderly man behind me swear at attendant as he throws away his free root beer. Search for Libertarians. Find instead Centennial Farm. Ooh, a horse! 12:01 p.m.: Continue search for Libertarians. Stop to ogle vintage 1949 John Deere tractors. Look in silo, where demonstration of lace-making by the Hedgehog Lacers is in progress. Leave very, very quickly. 12:05: Am pointed in right direction by staff member. Distracted by stand for California Rare Fruit Growers. Mmmmm. Mamey sapote. Pass hot-tub display. Wife notes we have just paid $7 to look at retail. Find Orange County Building, directly across from "Carnival of Products." This is strangely appropriate. 12:17: Enter Orange County Building. Greeted by giant, framed photograph of Sheriff Mike Carona. Is he smirking at me? Leave very, very quickly. Pass crowded Boy Scouts display across from ghost-town-like National Guard booth. Realize there is a joke in here somewhere. Fail to find it. Find Libertarians—conveniently next to Hemp Council. Observe small crowd of people taking the Nolan Test, which allows people to pinpoint where they really are in the political spectrum. Evidently, this is one of the most exciting things at the fair. The test is named after David Nolan, who recently ran against Congressman Christopher "Please Withdraw My Nomination" Cox, finishing a close third. 12:19: Find OCLP vice chairman Doug Scribner explaining to a small child that drugs are bad, but we shouldn't put drug users in jail, so we can free up police and jail space for real criminals. He then pats the child on the head and gives him a "Liberty for All" rub-on tattoo. It's all very Norman Rockwell. 12:24: Scribner hands me a pad of Nolan Tests and persuades me to help quiz people. Discover people at fair are extremely interested in discussing politics. Many promise to come right back after they visit the "I Love Lucy50th Anniversary Show" display. 12:38: Stop to examine poster displaying research results. Each person interviewed is given a blue dot, and that dot is placed on the Nolan political-spectrum chart. Discover most people end up near the middle. Scribner says that years ago, when they first started giving the tests, most people leaned very much toward "authoritarian," but that seems to be changing. 12:47: Bored now. Visit neighboring Hemp Council exhibit, complete with Hemp Museum. Am treated to displays of bottles of Dr. James' Cannabis Elixir and a 1938 issue of Popular Mechanics that calls hemp "a billion-dollar industry." Reflect on fact that this has proved a gross underestimate. Very earnest Hemp Councilman informs me they're trying to get their Hemp Museum into the Smithsonian. 12:52: Heh. 12:57: Very few people at Libertarian booth, but more than there are visiting the National Guard. Wander away to visit nearby CHP car parked inside the building. Ask for and am given a Chipper and His Pals Talk About Safety coloring book. CHP officers seem concerned that this interests me. Leave very, very quickly. Go for hot dog but am blocked by crowd gathered to see OC Health Department employees "hula-hooping for health." Your tax dollars at work! 1:00: Discover booth for OC Republican Party, manned by two very bored-looking housewives. Look up to see large, framed photos of Dubya and Dick Cheney. Flinch epileptically and render audible gasp of horror. Leave under the steely gaze of annoyed housewives. 1:24: Stop at Chuck Wagon for lunch. Am disturbed by giant placards depicting smiling wieners in cowboy hats and gun belts swaggering beneath billowing American flags. Flee.
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