Roger L. Simon

Welcome to Des Moines, Company Town

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Des Moines seems like a fine place, but these days it’s pretty much of a company town. And take it from a Los Angeleno who knows a company town when he sees one.  Our business is entertainment.  Des Moines’ (and Iowa’s) business at the moment is government, or should I say elections.

How do I know?  Where else but Des Moines would you get off the plane these days to be confronted by  airport illuminated signs for… CSPAN????  (It said “Welcome to Iowa/ Campaign 2016/CSPAN” or something like that.) On the highway into town, we passed a giant “Ben Carson for President” billboard.  Already?  It’s only June 2015.  Well, if cattle futures plummet and the country’s had enough of ethanol, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Actually, there’s a big difference between Des Moines and those other company towns, L.A., D.C. and you can  add New York (for the media).  People here are actually nice, very nice.  In fact, you have to adjust your mindset for a few minutes to realize they mean it.  It has to be some kind of scam.  But they are nice.  It’s real.  This is America and  some of it is still left.

Des Moines is also an attractive city.  And it’s clean, unlike the other three aforementioned.

I’ve only been here a few hours with my PJTV crew and we all came to that conclusion.  (That lovely shot of the Iowa Women of Achievement walking bridge is by our cameraman Kofa Boyah.)  Even the Big Barn Harley dealership where I went to do my first interview was spic and span.  That’s the place where it all begins tomorrow  — Senator Ernst’s “Roast & Ride” followed by the main event, speeches by seven — count ’em, seven — Republican candidates in the town of Boone.

Dan Molars — head honcho at the dealership — told me that as far as he knew only Ernst and Walker would actually  be riding Harleys to Boone.  He said Perry might have been on a chopper too, but the scuttlebutt was he had broken a collarbone.  That one raised an eyebrow from me, considering the Texas governor had just delivered a stemwinder of an announcement speech only two days before.  When I explained that to Molars, the Harley man allowed as he might have been mistaken.

But speaking of scuttlebutt, I spent half my flight out here following the hysterical back and forth on Twitter over the New York Times stern report on Mr. and Mrs. Rubio’s driving habits.  You can’t make this stuff up. (I cannot tell a lie.  I was once picked up at one a.m. by a California Highway Patrol officer for driving 90 in an old Porsche 911 somewhere north of Palm Desert.  I hope that doesn’t disqualify me from a presidential run.  No, I wasn’t smoking choom at the time.)

Anyway, I’m interviewing Senator Rubio tomorrow and I plan on asking him about his side of this “controversial” story before getting on to the more mundane stuff like Obama’s meshuggener Iran deal and why the Koch brothers haven’t bought the New York Times already and put us all out of our misery.

Okay, that’s it for now.  I had to get up at 4:30AM to get here and I’m a little blotto.  I’m trying to save something for  Joni Ernst’s hosted press cocktail hour that starts in an hour.  Where is Dr. Hunter S. Thompson when you need him?

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More tomorrow when the real fun begins. (At noon, I am officially blocking my cardiologist’s IP.)