American Cheese: Odd Patriotic Gestures

Unusual Ways to Flash National Pride

By Buck Wolf

March 18  Whether you protest in the nude or rename your french fries, Americans have a tradition of going to comic extremes to express their love and disdain.

When an Ohio congressman instigated the rechristening of "French"-named foods last week at the House cafeteria, it was just the first salvo in a global food fight.

A French Web site fired back at Washington, urging people to send pretzels to the White House — a clear reference to President Bush fainting and bumping his head last January after gagging on a salty snack.

This week, the Web site ( began selling $7.50 pretzel bags, and it's promising to send them to the White House in a historic mass action.

This incident just proves there are endless avenues of political expression — at least in an open society. Let's just see the French try to FedEx unwanted snack food to Saddam Hussein's subterranean bunker.

The fried potato fracas might be pretty silly — but is it any surprise that Americans relish the comedy of political theater? Just think of the hard-core Democrats and Republicans decked out in elephant and donkey masks, straw hats and other regalia at their annual conventions.

Comic gestures, no matter how simpleminded, are just a small part of our free speech rights. We virtually have a constitutional guarantee to be goofy. We can paint our faces red, white and blue in ridiculous public displays of affection for Old Glory.

In the land of T-shirt slogans and campaign buttons, we tend to poke fun of our adversaries and our own leaders alike. Some people are trying to prove a point. Some are trying to turn a fast buck. Either way, I'm sure this pretzel logic keeps Saddam scratching his head — and you have to appreciate that.

Here are some comic expressions of unabashed patriotism:

Patriotic Expressions Royal Palace Care Packages: In the face of America's overwhelming armed forces, Iraq may soon have a dire shortage of white flags. Now, for

just $10, you can sponsor the surrender of Saddam's Republican Guard by sending a white flag and "I Surrender" button straight to the presidential palace in Baghdad.