Being Canadian, I knew I needed to know more about the political workings of our friendly, but sometimes scary, neighbour to the south. I was especially interested in whether or not I would be a republican or a democrat. Reading the front page of SummitPost over the last month, I knew where to find my answers – why in the mountains, of course. If folks could find religion and science in the mountains, why I thought, couldn’t I figure out if I was cheering for the republicans or the democrats?
So I left Canada, drove down to Colorado, determined to hike up one of Colorado’s 14,000 footers. As I arrived, I wondered what other enlightenment I might find in the mountains. As the famous mountaineer Doug Scott quipped, “You’ll never find enlightenment on a full stomach, youth”, so getting in the spirit of things, I didn’t even bring a lunch on my climb (but took a case of beer – I’m Canadian after all).
Off I went – hiking higher and higher. I was only lightly dressed for the 30 below weather Colorado was experiencing, as I had heard hypothermia and elevation gain often induce hallucinations. I was really getting into it.
As I walked, I thought – no pondered, really; am I a democrat or a republican? What did I know about these two political parties – fuck all actually. These American mountains had to speak to me.
Soon, I started to get really cold – my Air Nikes, cotton pants, and hockey jacket just weren’t cutting it. Up ahead, I saw something…. Could it be? It was… Al Sharpton, as I live and breath, was sitting on a rock, looking as out of place as a Hilti drill on John Bacher’s harness.
“Al”, I said, “Help me out, I’m trying to figure out whether I’m a democrat or a republican”
“Are you against the war in Iraq?” Al said, between chattering teeth.
“Well, I’m not entirely sure”, I replied, “It all seems pretty complicated to me. I don’t think I know enough about it to have an educated position”
“You’re definitely a democrat”, Al said. And poof he was gone. I opened one of my beers and started hiking again.
About two beers and an hour later, I came over a rise, and what did I see but Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky racking up for an ice climb. Bill was smoking a cigar and Monica looked slightly embarrassed. I offered them a beer and explained my problem.
Bill asked me if I was pro-life or pro choice. I thought he was talking about the death penalty, so said pro-life. Bill told me I was definitely a republican. Monica was starting to get drunk, so I pressed on, more confused then ever. Finding enlightenment in the mountains wasn’t as easy as I’d first thought.
As I neared the top of the mountain, I could see a figure posed on the summit – surely this person would have all the answers to my questions. As I got closer, I couldn’t believe my eyes – it was George Bush; either that or Dana Carvy doing a really good impression.
George/Dana said “How can I help you son?”
“I’m trying to figure out if I’m a republican or a democrat by going on a quest into the mountains – I heard the mountains could provide answers”, I explained.
“Where’d you hear that?” the president replied, “Sounds crazy”.
“Yea, some website …. It’s actually not that important”, I replied, “What’s important is whether or not you can tell me if I’m a democrat or a republican.”
“Is that beer you’re drinking?”, George said.
I could tell it was going to be difficult to get a straight answer out of George – it was hard to believe he was the president.
“Yep, can I crack you one open?”, I answered, hoping I could steer the conversation back to my pressing issue.
“Glad to see its Canadian beer too”, said George. “Oh shit, hold on a second; don’t tell anyone I said that”.
A few beers later, I was running low, had to pee, and really wanted to make it back to Canada for a hockey game, so I laid my cards on the table.
“Georgy”, I said (I was getting a bit drunk), “Am I a republican or a democrat? – I’m looking for some enlightenment here – help a brother out”.
George told me he was going to ask me a series of questions and then he would provide me with the enlightenment I was seeking.
His first question was “Do you think everyone is entitled to free health care?”
“Yes”, I replied, without hesitation.
His next question – “Are you a religious man?”
“I believe everyone has the right to their own religion, just keep it out of politics and mountaineering websites, is all I ask”, I answered, rather smartly, I thought.
“This is my final question”, he said, “Do you believe in a strong military, able to impose its will on other dangerous countries?”
“I believe in maintaining very good friendships with countries that have a strong military, but would rather have them defend us, than actually spending my own tax dollars on the military”, I answered quite thoughtfully really.
George then told me that he had determined the answer to my question and would now enlighten me.
“Your answers have sorely disappointed me”, George said. “I don’t think I’ve ever said this to another American, but I wouldn’t want you to be a republican or a democrat – in fact, I think you should defect to Canada”. And with that George was gone without even a thank-you for the beer.
Good advice though; I can now see why he was elected twice. I was feeling slightly bad about my previous derogatory thoughts. A smart man, George; as he definitely provided me with some enlightenment. I headed down.
My day ended badly though. I met up with Bill O’Reilly from Fox News on a rappel, and after he found out I was Canadian (the beer gave it away), he cut my rope. I ended up needing a helicopter rescue and am in my second week of recovery at the hospital in Boulder. My bill is about $600,000 and building – send money care of SummitPost.org.