With apologies to our primate cousins, three underclassmen at Tufts took live last fall a singular bit of Internet genius: the realization that George W. Bush, plastic, pouty face and all, looks awfully like a chimpanzee. The students paired photos of Shrub, then swinging for the presidency, with pics culled from nature sites, and voilà—the visual pun e-mailed ’round the world. “It was just kind of a joke,” says Alex Reeves, who launched BushorChimp.com with Bill Feldspar and Rich Sullivan. “All of a sudden it blossomed into craziness.”
Three Web addresses later, the site is drawing some 30,000 visitors a day, vending T-shirts, and raising money for wildlife preservation. The founders added links, like the one to www.savethechimps.org, after people complained that the comparison to Bush insulted the apes. Most were kidding, but not all. “They said we were furthering the exploitation of chimps in the media,” Reeves says.
The trio update their site daily, often with Bush-chimp combos inspired by viewers. They’ve considered turning the cyberhit into a coffee-table book, but have had trouble scrounging up the photo rights—or even the names of the photogs. Pleas for the shutterbugs to come forward yielded one objection about unauthorized use from a Ranger Rick editor. “I’m not even that Internet savvy,” says Reeves. “I just think it’s, like, fun.”