Get ’em before they’re indicted as war criminals…er, I mean, while they’re hot.

Two weeks ago, Shakespeare & Co. became Missoula’s first and only retailer to sell the Operation Hidden Agenda playing cards. The brainchild of California teacher Kathy Eder, the cards feature photos of President Bush and members of his administration paired with fun quotes like this one from General Tommy Franks referring to Iraqi civilian casualties: “We don’t do body counts.” Designed to counter the rock-’em-sock-’em worldview displayed in the administration’s infamous “Iraq’s Most Wanted” playing cards, more than 12,500 decks have been sold so far. Pretty amazing when you consider the $10 price tag.

Shakespeare owner Garth Whitson put the cards on display as soon as they came in, but hasn’t seen them flying out the door.

“I wouldn’t say they’re up in the consciousness of Missoulians yet,” he says.

Whitson thinks that once news of the cards begins to circulate, more and more curious dissidents will come wandering into his bookstore in search of ways to make strip poker (just think of Donald Rumsfeld as you slowly remove your briefs—ugh!) a more subversive game.

Proving that the decks are more than just a way to cash in on consumers thumbing their noses at the Bush administration, Eder is donating 50 percent of the profits to U.S. veterans dealing with Desert Storm Syndrome from the first Gulf War and peace-making and relationship-building missions to Iraq.

•••

What’s it going to take for those high-hat journalists at Outside to realize that Missoula is way cooler than Bozeman? In their September issue, the magazine rates America’s best college towns—and Bozeman comes out ahead of the home of ole’ UM. Unlike Playboy’s rankings of the nation’s best party schools, Outside’s list is all about outdoor recreation. Coming in at #15—Bozeman’s Montana State nabs 5th place—the University of Montana is touted for its proximity to Snowbowl, Alberton Gorge and the Mission Mountains. UM also picked up extra credit for enrolling undergrad Jess Roskelley, 20, the youngest American to summit Everest.

But Missoulians need not despair—we’re still #1 in one category: devastating, deplorable wildfires. Over the past week, Missoula has become the epicenter of national forest fire activities as hundreds of firefighters across the country are routed to Missoula, and the national spotlight shines through the smoky haze.

On Sunday, July 17, California alone sent 70 firefighters and 20 engines to Missoula. During the past week, Missoula’s fires have been written about in the Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the United Kingdom’s Guardian.

Even Gov. Judy Martz, who graced Missoula without invited guest President Bush on Tuesday, Aug. 19, didn’t have much of the usual cheerfulness about her. Touring the fires, she said that she expects this year’s conflagrations to be more damaging than the fires of 2000. Most experts—unusually, given the source—agree.

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