Do you love America? If so, why aren’t you wearing a Mexican-made shirt that says so, setting off Chinese-made incendiaries from the back of a Korean-made four-wheeler?

And what’s not to love anyway? … Other than the Iraq War, health care costs, the energy crisis, fuel prices, the recession, the waning dollar, government surveillance, detainee torture, Wal-Mart, the corporate media, homophobia, election fraud, racial profiling, deforestation, PAC funding, the war on drugs, urban poverty, failing schools, polluted rivers, regressive taxes, gun laws and corporate handouts. … Absolutely nothing.

In all honesty, the best tactic for staying out of trouble on this topic is to avoid espousing any idea that doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker. But, should one fall off the wagon, just slap on some patriotic garb until the storm clouds drift away. For fashion tips ask Barack Obama, who decided this week to respond to subterranean GOP attacks on his patriotism by putting on his best Yankee Doodle act.

Donning strategically placed patriotic regalia, the presidential candidate launched a campaign of self-defense Monday in Independence, Mo.—starting point for the pre-OS computer game, “The Oregon Trail.” Sources say he’ll be in Butte by Independence Day, which rests just a few clicks past that pixilated outpost that looks like every other.

Although the Missouri set and wardrobe proved slightly ridiculous (we would also be remiss not to note the tour basically follows the Bible Belt up the Libertarian Hemline), Obama touched on a few solid, if lurid, points in his now-well-dissected speech.

“It is worth considering the meaning of patriotism because the question of who is—or is not—a patriot all too often poisons our political debates,” Obama told the Independence crowd. “I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign.  And I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine.”

If you’re wondering—and you should—the speech came on the heels of some ill-advised comments about John McCain’s military history by Veep hopeful Gen. Wes Clark, which were blown out of proportion, of course. McCain made some snarky response and the blogosphere ran with it. Western Montanans who want to scootch up to Butte for this episode of the Obama-McCain Show should wake up early to get a good seat for the city’s Fourth of July Parade.

The alternative is to stay at home, drink imported light beer and eventually just vote for the guy with the most American flags inserted into his ensemble. But then, one of these days, that yahoo who drives around town with political signage plastered to his pickup is gonna end up in the Oval Office.

Fortunately, Bob Kelleher is plenty busy this election season.
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