Bush in the yard grows on both parties
Friends, foes united in appreciation of president's likeness on
Sun Times Newspaper )
Originally published September 26, 2004
There's no mistaking the 10-inch-tall ceramic man in the neighbor's
yard. It's George Dubya, giving passers-by a thumbs-up.
The presidential gnome, mass-produced and hand-painted in Roseville,
Ohio, is robed in a blue long-sleeve shirt, a belt with a yellow
lone star buckle and cowboy boots. His ears protrude in gnome-like
fashion from under a pointy red cap. Each gnome costs $29.95.
I think it's humorous," said Sam Girton, creator of the Bushgnomes
and a professor of visual communication at Ohio University. "I
think that people are ready for some election news that's light."
The garden gnome's political agenda remains ambiguous. The gnome
likenesses of the 43rd president raise their left hand in a confident
thumbs-up. Their right hand remains hidden behind their back,
The apparent gesture of deceit doesn't seem to bother the Republicans.
The gnomes have been bought by voters of both parties since they
started selling on Girton's Web site, bushgnome.com, in late
I had a lot of Republicans say that he's really cute and his fingers
are crossed for good luck," said Girton, a 36-year-old Democrat. "I
think that no matter what side you're on, you look at it and you
Girton got the idea for the Bushgnomes from political cartoons,
where Bush would be depicted with large ears. Enlisting the help
of a friend who draws cartoons for Marvel Comics, he got started.
I think it's fantastic," said Lee Ungemach, of Hull/Alpine
Pottery, which makes the gnomes. "It's cute; I don't think
it's in bad taste."
Larry Hamel-Lambert, associate professor of visual communication
at Ohio University, liked the Bushgnomes and keeps his indoors
to protect it from Ohio weather. He thinks the gnomes might
become a collectible someday.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Girton has considered giving
the Democratic candidate equal time by creating a John Kerry "fairy," but
says he likely won't unless Kerry defeats Bush on Nov. 2.
Girton is pleased with the response to the Bushgnome; he estimates
that he has about 500 orders pending.
This thing is like the Tickle Me Elmo of the election year. It's
really taken off."