By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
One hundred fifty-two men and women executed on then governor Dubya Bush's watch in Texas may soon send the president 55th birthday greetings from the grave, thanks to an unintended joint Web effort by his most dedicated fans and his most acrimonious enemies.
The scheme is elementary: Over at BackBush.com, adoring minions plan to "sign" a life-size, six-by-three-foot birthday card displaying a large Dubya mugsans smirkto be delivered to America's top elected Cancer by the big day, July 6. The site shows Representative Bob Barr, the Georgian Republican, standing next to the card (Bush's nose is about crotch-high on the congressman) and makes clear that this isn't just any old greeting. It's about "taking a stand against the left-wing agenda of the Democrats, liberals, and the media," BackBush explains. (Apparently, it's also about collecting e-mail addresses for GOP propaganda.) BackBush.com hopes for 100,000-plus addresses, er, signatures.
The real surprise of Bush's big day, though, could be some of the names that pop up among his fan roster. Like, say, Gary Graham, Betty Beets, Odell Barnes, Javier Cruz, Excell White, and Noble Maysall men and women killed by the state of Texas while Bush was in charge.
These greetings from the grave come at the urging of New York "punk publisher" Sander Hicks, who's calling for death-penalty opponents to send Bush a whoppin' howdy-do under a nom de plume borrowed from BushKills.com. "If you want to voice dissent, we suggest that concerned progressives infiltrate the birthday card," Hicks wrote in a June 14 e-newsletter. Sign, he advises, but "use the name of a person that Bush has executed!"
Hicks is the founder of Soft Skull Press, the radical Lower East Side publishing house that picked up Fortunate Son, the George W. Bush exposé that alleged a Bush cocaine arrest in Texas had been covered up. St. Martin's Press dumped the book after its author, J.H. Hatfield, admitted he'd participated in an attempted contract hit. Soft Skull recently released the second edition of the book, which contains a foreword by Hicks revealing the sources of the cocaine charge.
Now Hicks is bent on leading an act of "fiercely progressive" online political sabotage. In his e-mail, Hicks credits his pal Russ Padden for suggesting other appropriate pseudonyms: "Osama Bin Laden, Arbusto Oil, Grampa Lovehitler or, better yet, Prescott Lovedadolf."
Back at BackBush, though, conservatives are laying it on just as thick in their president's honor. "Thank you for restoring dignity and moral character to the Presidency," the greeting reads. "God bless you."