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How did the Tea Party folks do on Tom's U.S. Constitution quiz?

As I was telling you last week before I was so rudely interrupted by that word-count thing, I went to the Tea Party rally at El Presidio Park on Tax Day. They had gathered—about seven years too late, by my estimation—to protest what they consider to be excessive government spending, a skewed tax system and/or a flawed foreign policy.

Really, where were these people when Tom DeLay, Dick Cheney, et al. were looting the country and pissing on the Constitution? It would probably be easy (and maybe even fun) to demonize these protesters, but why? Despite what some of their signs say, it's a free country. They have as much right to assemble and protest as anybody else. They're just wrong about a bunch of stuff. That doesn't automatically make them bad people. Just wrong.

There were lots and lots of American flags and, as I said last week, I saw one Confederate flag. You people out there who want to defend that despicable rag need to check yourselves. The Confederate flag represents a time when an entire society and economy was based on people owning other people. And when the war broke out, Confederate troops fought and died in an attempt to keep intact their "right" to own another human being. Where is the honor in that?

You can put up the lame arguments about states' rights and regional pride, but as long as slavery is part of the equation, all of that other stuff amounts to the equivalent of, "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?"

Anyway, I was walking around at the Tea Party gathering, looking at the signs. I saw one that read "Protect the Constitution: Impeach Obama." Trusty notebook in hand, I went up to talk to her. I asked her which was more important to her: protecting the Constitution, or impeaching Obama? She replied that it was the former. Then I asked her how many amendments there are to the Constitution.

She looked puzzled and asked, "Why do you ask that?"

I said that somebody might snatch away one or two of them, and if she didn't know how many there should be, she wouldn't even know they were missing. She finally guessed 24, which wasn't a horrible guess, but wrong.

I then asked 10 other people, all of them carrying flags or posters or both. Not one got it right. Sadly, of the answers, the one given most often was 10. I'm betting that there are black people who are glad that the Constitution doesn't stop at 10 amendments. One poor soul initially blurted out a number that was off by 60! Six-zero. He then said, "No, that can't be right." No, it can't.

I finally came upon a guy who said that he was a "student of the Constitution." He missed the amendment question by one. (There are 27.) I then asked him whether the Constitution would prohibit Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein from running together for president and vice president. He said he didn't see why two women couldn't run on the same ticket.

I told him that the 12th Amendment prohibits the president and vice president from being from the same state. When Richard Nixon ran for president in 1968, his official residence was New York. But he later shifted his residency to California. While Nixon was a native of California, he almost certainly made the switch to prevent then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan from forcing his way onto the ticket in 1972.

The Constitution talk gave me an idea, so I went back to my car to get something.

There was this really funny skit on Saturday Night Live one time in which Bob Newhart played a guy who ran a tiny general store/trading post out in the middle of nowhere. The first few customers who walked in asked for stuff like a bag of flour or a pound of sugar. But then, the next few made requests that were a bit more obscure. No matter what was requested, Newhart would just reach under the counter and produce it. Finally, a guy walks in and asks for half of a basketball. Newhart pulls out a half-basketball and deadpans, "Whew! That's the last one I had in stock."

That's my trunk.

I got a piece of poster paper and a marker that I keep in there in case my basketball players want to do a car wash. I made a sign and walked back to El Presidio. I stood on Alameda Street and held the sign up to see if anybody would honk.

The sign read, "LOWER TAXES!! REPEAL THE 13th AMENDMENT!!"

If you don't get the joke, shame on you. The 13th Amendment was the one that outlawed slavery. (The 16th established the income tax.) Although, in strict terms, if the 13th were outlawed, some people's taxes probably would go down. The ratio of productivity versus labor costs would go through the roof.

I got three horn honks and a "Right on!" (Who still says "Right on!"? I didn't know members of the Brady Bunch lived in Tucson.)

One person slowed down and asked, "Hasn't that already been repealed?"

"No, that would be the 18th," I replied. (That's Prohibition.)

Yet another child left behind.

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