The Belly of the Beast

“So how come the traffic’s so thick?”

I was in the back of a taxi on the way to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, with tickets for Penn & Teller in my back pocket. The polls in deep-blue California, Oregon and Washington had just closed, handing Barack Obama seventy-some electoral votes and crowning him President-Elect.

“Dude, you haven’t heard? The Democrat victory party’s at the Rio.”

That’d be it.

A note, first. If you’re ever in Vegas, go see Penn & Teller and bring your camera. Unlike most Vegas stars, P&T stick around after the show for photos and autographs. And Penn is extremely tall - I’m 6’0”, he’s somewhere around 6’7”.

Penn Jillette

I won’t spoil any of the acts - but to give you an idea of what the show’s like, here’s their unorthodox version of the cup-and-ball trick.

The crowd was already chanting “Yes We Can” when I walked out of the P&T theatre. Now, I’m not of the Democratic mindset. But among American political parties, Democrats are second only to Libertarians in their ability to throw a wild party. (Republicans might be notionally better at managing the economy and national security, but they’re about as much fun at a party as a case of plague.) So I turned left instead of right, and headed for the party.

The first thing that surprised me is that there was a cash bar. This would seem to be against every Democratic principle - where’s the sharing of the wealth? The concern for the common man who can’t afford a beer? The second thing that surprised me was this guy - I think we’ve just found Barack Obama’s hidden support base.

Rednecks for Obama

I was worried. Was I sufficiently hip and trendy and youthful to fit in? Could I convincingly shout “Yes We Can”? Would the P&T program clutched in my fingers blow my cover? Would I slip after two beers and start rambling about the need for smaller government and bigger cars? Or would they kick me out for calling someone a penguin-shagging tree-hugging dope-smoking (oh, no, wait, that’s the Libertarians) stinky hippie?

But it was all surprisingly slick. The TV crews were swarming the place, trying to catch a glimpse of the newly elected Congresswoman Dina Titus. There were plenty of attractive women (or men, if that’s your thing). Nobody seemed to mind when I stuck my camera in their face and asked for a photo. And there were even a few wacky outfits. All in all, you’d probably rather have been there than at the Republican shindig down at the Palazzo.

I staggered out about midnight, two Coronas deep (at six bucks each, I couldn’t afford much more… if I wanted to drink expensive imported beer I would’ve stayed in Singapore), arm in arm with a pack of people still shouting “Yes We Can”. Isn’t it time now for “Yes We Did”? And what about “Yes We Will”?

Ah well. We can hope. Yes we can.