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Personal Space

Pants on fire


  • Bruce Elliott

"In polite society you don't go up to somebody and get right in their face and say, 'You're a liar,'" says Ben Cohen, of Ben & Jerry's ice-cream fame. "We think it's much more discrete and subtle to say, 'Excuse me, but don't you think your pants are getting a little warm?"

Beginning last October, the Pants on Fire-mobile -- a 12-foot-high effigy of George W. Bush, dressed in a flight suit with artificial flames shooting out his pants, accompanied with smoke and music and a video monitor listing the president's various falsehoods -- has been traversing the country.

The one-vehicle parade, chauffeured by volunteer Steve Smith, above, wound its way through Colorado Springs last week before heading north for a three-week-long Denver/Boulder tour.

Cohen launched his latest creation in an effort to inspire upstanding Americans to get out and vote this November. Politics, after all, should not be the dominion of a bunch of stodgy old men wearing blue suits.

"What I was thinking was that Americans have a right to expect that their president is telling the truth," Cohen said. "For people who are getting their news off TV, and hear him giving speeches, a lot of the stuff he's saying sounds pretty good. But then you need to get behind the rhetoric and do some research, and what Bush is saying is not what he's doing."

Like claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Like claiming there were clear ties between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Like, as Cohen noted, posturing behind a No Child Left Behind Act and then refusing to fund it to the tune of $8 billion, thus leaving plenty of children behind. (For more, see the mobile's Web site at

Says Cohen: "If people just go vote, we'll get this scoundrel out of office."

-- by Cara DeGette

photo by Bruce Elliott

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