Don't Tread on Russ


I'm at the Campaign for America's Future "Take Back America" conference, diligently searching for more placards with the word "America" on them. At an event in a main hall they're screening the trailer for "An Inconvenient Truth," which has been out for a few weeks, but the phrase "I'm Al Gore" is still enough to drum up deafening applause with the liberal crowd.

The exhibition hall was somnalent as the conference kicked off, but I noticed only one table set up for a possible presidential candidate: Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) and his PAC, the Progressive Patriots Fund. Feingold's merchandise and iconography was framed around the issues he's pissed off establishment Democrats with—his sole vote against the PATRIOT Act and his proposed censure of President Bush. Two of the items evoked themes I've seen libertarian merchandisers use before. One's a take-off on the "Don't Tread on Me" flag, a phone cable coiled like a snake with the slogan "Don't Spy on Me." The other's a coffee mug decorated with a redacted Bill of Rights, with blacked-out chunks that become clear when hot liquid is poured in. (The First Amendment isn't blacked out at all; curious if you know Feingold's legislative history.)