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Ranger Rich

Karl Rove, the grand master of modern American politics who single-handedly made the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush possible, came to our village the other day. Satan responded by shrouding us in a dark, wretched blanket of raw and algid air that was filled with the water from a thousand cauldrons of horrible darkness.

I'm just kidding. It was only regular fog.

Frankly, Rove seemed like a nice enough guy during his two-hour book signing at Borders, relentlessly extending his hand and saying, "Hi, I'm Karl Rove," or "Hey, Karl Rove," or "Hey there, I'm Karl Rove," just in case some of the villagers had forgotten why they'd just stood in a 90-minute line.

He even called one young man "dude."

Here now, direct from my notebook, that actual conversation:

"Hey, dude."

"Uh, hello."

"What do you do?"

"I'm a student at Pikes Peak Community College."

"What are ya' studying?"

"Political science."

"Well, there you go then. [Loud laugh.] Make sure to read chapter four! [Roaring laugh.] Remember, chapter four."

"Uh, OK." [Nervous, puzzled laugh.]

Rove is touring the nation peddling his book, Courage and Consequence, which gives behind-the-scenes looks at Rove's life in politics, a life that culminated when he almost magically transformed a dim-witted, confused-looking guy from Texas into a dim-witted, confused-looking guy from Texas who got to ride on Air Force One for eight years and once, in public, used the word "strategerize."

Rove is known as the "architect" of George W. Bush's presidency, which experts say is one notch below being known as the "soils tester" at the Tower of Pisa. Rove has also been called "the brains" of the Bush administration, which is not unlike being called "the fish" in a room containing only a carp and a sofa.

Nevertheless, there was Karl Rove, and about 150 villagers turned out to see him. By way of comparison, the grand opening of a Costco store on North Nevada Avenue a few months ago brought out so many people it looked like a crowd scene from the film Spartacus.

Outside the Borders store were a handful of not-so-friendly folks protesting Rove's appearance, including a woman who held a sign that read, "Arrest Karl Rove," which, of course, did not happen. (If the protestors really wanted Rove arrested and roughed up, they would have dressed him up as a peace activist and made him march in our St. Patrick's Day parade.)

Inside the bookstore the Borders folks had put the signing on the second floor — I am not kidding — in the Toys and Games section. Rove moved around a bit and for a while he stood next to a rack containing an actual game called "Toot and Otto" — ironically, the same nicknames he gave to Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney.

Those in line, as you might imagine, love the guy. Cydney Ryon of Peyton put it this way: "We love the guy."

Why?

"Because of all he stands for," she said. "His values and beliefs are the same as our values and beliefs. We love all that he and George Bush did for America, all the security and the economics."

Said her husband, Kerri Ryon, who wore a sleeveless T-shirt and had what appeared to be an actual-sized eagle tattooed on his left shoulder: "Karl Rove is what America stands for."

From Joyell Johnson: "Karl Rove and George Bush were honest with the American people. Not like what we have now."

She added that she wanted to come to the Sarah Palin book signing at the same Borders store back in December, "but it was snowing too much."

Back in the Toys and Games section, the slow procession of fans continued.

"Hi, I'm Karl Rove."

"Karl Rove."

"Hey, Karl Rove."

And then, shortly before 2 p.m., a heartwarming scene unfolded. A 30-ish mother and her three children, one in a stroller, moved slowly away from the podium. The woman put her hand on the shoulder of her oldest child, a boy, perhaps 6 years old, and she said this: "You can tell all your friends you met Karl Rove."

It's a scene that I'll never get out of my mind. No matter how good the psychiatrist is.

rangerrich@csindy.com

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