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A Brief Guide To CPAC's Terrifying Exhibit(ion) Hall

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This is a special post by longtime reader/commenter "Bilbo," we'll call him, who is voluntarily covering CPAC for your Wonkette! How nuts is that? Anyway here is his first post of several posts, enjoy! Jim Newell will post more things, maybe, after he kills himself.


By Bilbo

The freakfest horrorshow that is the annual CPAC sideshow continued Saturday, and the zombies appeared to be getting restless and tired and testy after three days of brainwashing and all this talk about socialism and racism and sexism and religionism and Obamaism and Democratsism and, oh yes conservatism. But everyone knows all about the boring sound-bite TV-ready speeches and seminars and workshops and seminars--you know, the ones that get all the press. But there's another sideshow, another carnival, deep below the meandering, confusing and Escher-esque hallways of the monstrosity that is the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel: the Exhibit Room.

Here, deep below the rest of the loonytunes CPAC convention that rambles, rants and raves on in various crowded, sweaty rooms above, a convention center-sized room is filled with all manners and sorts of conservative organizations, complete with bright and shining hosts and hostesses, ready with piles of fun promotional feebies, books, pamphlets, fliers, sound-bites, and enough conservative speechifying to fill a convention, say, like CPAC. But who are these people, what are these groups, and what are they saying?

Herewith, a whirlwind tour of the CPAC Exhibit Hall, 2012: In one of the first aisles, the National Rifle Association offers attendees a sporting chance to kill ducks or shatter skeet things with a huge laser gun interactive video game: You grab a plastic rifle with a laser, aim at the ducks, and splatter them to kingdom come! What fun! "It draws people here," an NRA person says. "It's been very positive."

Meanwhile, young kids in suits and ties line up to kill the ducks--some of them teenagers and college students. Around the corner, something called the Latino Partnership for American Principles, coupled with the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, is giving away copies of The True Gold Standard, by Lewis Lehrman, which advocates for a return to the gold standard. Many other booths offer their takes on the economy, with several groups advocating for the abolute elimination of the Federal Reserve System. Great idea, guys!

Another group rants and raves about the Silver Standard, or something about silver. It's not clear. Let's get all of these economics people together here and straighten this out! Gold, or silver?

There is conservative journalism here. Red Alert gives away key chains and chapstick--possibly in-demand items at CPAC, with all the exchanges of room keys, car keys, apartment keys, kisses and saliva. There are stands hosted by The Washington Times, The Washington Examiner, Human Events. There is something called The National Journalism Center, which is raffling off copies of BIAS--A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort News, by Bernard Goldberg. In other stands, too numerous to count, there scores of books blasting some left-wing liberal media conspiracy! That is something we here at Wonkette know nothing about.

The American Center for Law and Justice, which cleverly uses ACLJ to confuse itself with the ACLU, says it is all about "defending pro-life pregnancy centers" and the "freedom to pray in the military." TheTeaParty.net says "we are the people preserving liberty and freedom in the United States of America." The Heritage Foundation offers a 2012 calender with patriotic pictures and military jets on the cover and an array of books: Ronald Reagan: A Basic Introduction, A Citizens Introduction to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and How to Read the Federalist Papers. There are pamphlets, like "A Brief History of the Modern American Conservative Movement," and "Why Does Economic Freedom Matter?"

The Family Research Council, a woman at their booth says, is "a family group that deals with social issues--the sanctity of life, marriage--between one man and one woman--and religious liberty." She leans in close to emphasize "between one man and one woman," enunciating each word like a schoolmarm. This group offers bumper stickers--"1.20.13: Obama's Last Day," "Politicians and Diapers: Two Things That Need Constant Changing." And this group also offers nifty pamphlets: "The Top 10 Myths About Homosexuality," and "Debating Homosexuality." Great! Some reading to peruse during the Palin speech.

This seems to a theme here in the Exhibit Hall--this marriage thing. The National Organization for Marriage is "the only national organization soley [focused] on the issue of marriage being established by law as being between one man and one woman," says the Rev. John Boyles, the group's director of religious outreach. The group is handing out red and blue wrist bands that proclaim marriage is for only one man and one woman. Might the entire Exhibit Hall karma break down if a booth suggested marriage between one man and one man, or between one woman and one woman? The possibility is enticing.

But who else is here in the Exhibit Hall, schmoozing and politicking and spreading the conservative word? Well, the names tend to say it all: Constituting America and Let Freedom Ring, Conservatives of Europe (really), Generation Opportunity, Conservative Base, The Eagle Forum, Americans for Tax Reform, College Republican National Committee, Heritage Action for American, Center for Security Policy, American Legislative Exchange Council, Freedom Alliance, Regent University, Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow, American Enterprise Institute, Free-Think-U, The Heartland Institute (offering bumper stickers that say "Defund Planned Parenthood" and "I'm Voting For Life"), Tea Party Express, the National Taxpayer Union, State Policy Network, the RNC, Human Life Organization, "protecting life around the world," and the Campaign for Working Families.

And, yes, finally, a booth promoting the upcoming documentary film Monumental, which is a documentary by Kirk Cameron in which he "follows the footsteps of our forefathers" and "visits historical places from Western Europe to Plymouth to Jamestown," says a booth spokesman. In the film, Cameron is "searching for what makes our nation great," the booth spokesman says earnestly. The film is scheduled to be released on March 27.

If Cameron is searching for what makes this nation great, he surely would not have found it in the Exhibit Hall at CPAC on this cold, gray, very depressing February winter's day.

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