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Tom examines the sociology of the bumper sticker

I read constantly. It's one of those two-sided, blessing/curse things. It's been a lifelong passion, but it's not something that can be easily turned off. It's like that episode of The Odd Couple TV series with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. (Not the really sad reboot that simply substituted a black cast, starring Ron Glass and Demond Wilson, and used recycled scripts from the first series.) Overwhelmed by the pressures of modern metropolitan life, Felix and Oscar spend time at a monastery that appears to be stuck in the 17th century. One night, Felix wakes up to find Oscar reading the label on his toothpaste tube by candlelight.

I understand that urge. I read books, magazines and multiple newspapers—every day and all the time. I read billboards and the crawl at the bottom of the screen on SportsCenter. I even read the Watchtower thing that the nice Jehovah's Witnesses bring to my door. It's like comic relief.

One thing that I'm obsessed with reading is bumper stickers. Over the years, I have tried to train myself not to read them if I am behind the wheel and my car is in motion, with only limited success. They're just so interesting and they often reveal way too much about the driver. A well-written (and designed) bumper sticker can be dazzlingly effective. It can be better than a poem, better than a song lyric.

Anyway, the other day, I was stopped at a red light, about to get on the interstate. In the lane next to me was a blue pickup truck, kinda beat up and faded. The driver had two bumper stickers on his back window. I read them quickly, then did a double take as he sped away when the light changed. When we got on the freeway, I tried to catch up to him, but we were approaching the construction zone and I'm that one idiot everyone else flips off for going at or near 45 in a 45-mph zone.

Please pardon my digression, but if I were Bill Gates, I would take all my money and—well, first, of course, I would wipe out malaria. Then I would send hand-written apologies to everybody who bought a Zune. (They were, indeed, technically better than the iPod, but so, too, was Betamax better than VHS, and so what? I'm still stuck with a brand-new, still-in-the-box Zune and unable to share my music with anybody because everybody else on Earth had enough sense not to buy a Zune.) Then I would take a bunch of money and hire all kinds of off-duty officers to patrol the stretch of freeway between Ruthrauff and Prince roads, where it's apparently impossible for 99 percent of drivers to obey the posted speed limit.

I really don't get why it's so hard to slow down to 45 miles per hour for a couple of miles. Most people don't even slow down to 55; they just keep zooming along at 65 or more. Do you realize that if you go 20 miles per hour over the speed limit (65 instead of the posted 45) through that construction zone from Ruthrauff to Prince, you "save" yourself a grand total of 49 seconds, roughly six ten-thousandths of a day? Hardly seems worth it to endanger other people's lives. Jackasses.

Sure enough, the guy in the blue pickup sped through that zone, tailgating and honking at a couple of cars that were "only" going about 55. I never did get to see the driver, but I can't get the bumper stickers out of my head.

The first one read, "Obama Loves America Like O.J. Loved Nicole." I have to assume that they were all out of "I Hate N------s" bumper stickers at whatever gun show he attended. (Sellers of anti-Obama stuff do booming business at gun shows. No pun intended.) Plus, the "I'm an Ignorant Redneck Because I Lump All Black People Together" stickers are on back order.

Trying to make sense of the analogy, I guess that means that President Obama wants to stab the United States because he went over to the United States' house one night, peeked in the window and allegedly saw the United States performing a sex act on ... oh, I don't know, Guatemala. I wanted to catch up to the guy so I could ask which countries get to be Kato Kaelin and Johnnie Cochran.

No president should be immune to criticism and Obama shouldn't be immune just because of his race, but the stuff knuckleheads throw at him (the socialism, Islam, birther crapola) is just lame. And often racist.

If anything, the second sticker was even more stupid. It had a picture of a Confederate flag and said, "If This Flag Bothers You, Then You Need a History Lesson." Yeah, like I want to get a history lesson from a toothless hillbilly.

I have no doubt that there are people in this country who aren't offended by the Confederate flag. The reason I know that is because there are some people in this country who aren't even offended by a Nazi swastika. The two are about equivalent in my eyes. The Nazis wanted to wipe out an entire group of people, while Confederates wanted to base their entire economy on the ownership of other human beings. Six of one ...

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