Thursday, May 03, 2007

THE BYU 25: My Diary of a Grass Roots Miracle (PART TWO)

Northbound, I-15, Utah, April 26th, 2:40pm

My cell phone rang as our rental car sped by the digital screen for the McKay Events Center. The words "RALPH NADER" flashed in 20 foot tall letters. I quickly set my camera down and flipped my phone open. It was Bryan Young.


"Hey, Steve. Pat's crew just got pulled over by the Secret Service. They were at the airport trying to get a shot of Cheney's motorcade and I guess they looked suspicious."

"Holy crap. Are the Secret Service confiscating their cameras?"

"No. In fact, they're still filming. Bomb sniffing dogs and all."

"Dogs? What dogs? Are you kidding me?"

"No, man. Friggin dogs were jumping on top of his car and sniffing for explosives. And they got it all on camera."

"Oh, my God. That's awesome."

Dog save the King: sniffing for bombs.

We hung up and I pulled my camera back up to my face. Eric and Ashley were both on their cell phones. Ashley was biting her lip. Eric's fingers tapped on the steering wheel. Less than 5 hours until the big event and details were still being ironed out.

We drove about 20 more miles and then the southbound traffic abruptly disappeared. Not a single car was visible for miles. Northbound traffic suddenly looked like an evacuation route.

Eric said, "This must be it. Here come the cops."

A massive sea of red and blue lights appeared in the horizon, quickly approaching. Eric and Ashley set their cell phones down and watched in awe as 4 miles of police and secret service vehicles swooped southward on an empty interstate. Towards the end of the entourage was a small group of bulky, black SUVs followed by another army of police vehicles.

"Wow. There goes Dick Cheney," Ashley said, looking over her shoulder as the vehicular display of shock and awe vanished behind her.

5 minutes later, traffic slowly appeared again on the southbound route. They had closed down an entire interstate for Cheney's entourage. On and off ramps were crowded with hundreds of cars. Ralph Nader's entourage wouldn't be quite as large and Michael Bayish. There wouldn't be one police vehicle or closed on-ramp. It was just two college students and a filmmaker in a rented, dark blue sedan.

"I think it's ironic," Eric said, "that we're literally going in the opposite direction as Dick Cheney."

As we started to pull into Salt Lake International Airport, Ashley got a call from Matt, Ralph Nader's assistant. Their flight had arrive 20 minutes early.

"Oh, man. I hope Ralph Nader isn't just waiting on some sidewalk for us," she said as we pulled into passenger pick-up.

Eric parked the car and he and Ashley got out just in time to see Ralph and Matt walking out of the airport terminal towards them. They walked out and greeted them, shaking hands and smiling from ear to ear. Nader was carrying a disheveled pile of notebooks and papers under his arm. The suit he was wearing was homely with a sewn patch in the leg where it had been ripped before. He had only packed one small back pack, which his assistant carried and put in the truck. Eric and Ashley seemed a bit bewildered and so I quickly turned my camera off and played chouffer. I opened the passenger door and, with a sweep of my hand, said, "Mr. Nader...". Ralph got in, the rest of us packed into the back, and then we were off.

A grassroots 4 person entourage for Ralph Nader.

Ralph turned to Eric and Ashley, "So is Cheney speaking right now at BYU?"

"Well we passed his motorcade on the way up, so he probably just got there," Ashley said.

"BYU is giving him an honorary degree for social service," Eric announced.

"Jesus! To a war criminal?! A serial war criminal? How do you give an honorary degree to a dishonorable man?" Ralph exclaimed.

Ralph Nader takes the front seat and tells it how it is.

From there, we dropped Ralph and Matt off at their hotel in Salt Lake City to freshen up and we then proceeded to Ashley's parents' house to recharge. While Eric and Ashley quickly shoved food and water into their starved bodies, I looked at Ashley's family pictures in the living room. It was here that I learned that Ashley's grandfather had been a member of the Mormon Quorum of the 12 Apostles. In Mormondom, that's kind of a really big deal. On par with a member of the Vatican. Wow.

After a this quick break, it was back to the hotel, picking up Ralph and Matt and then driving down to the main event. Dick Cheney had finished speaking at BYU and Ralph said he had watched the last part of the speech in his hotel room.

"He was getting standing ovations," he said. "He told BYU how great their football team was and did a play-by-play of their last victory. The audience was eating it up."

Ralph continued, "And then he brought up the fact that the Princeton Review had deemed BYU the most 'stone-cold sober' school in the nation. The whole audience laughed and applauded at this. I guess they didn't know that Cheney drinks alcohol like water. Remember when he shot that guy in the face? He was drunk. But they applauded him because he told a joke about being sober."

Once drunkenly shooting a man in the face, Dick Cheney now made 20,000 BYU fans laugh and applaud.

At this point, it was 5:30pm. A press conference was to be held at 6:30pm and then the Alternative Commencement would begin at 7:30pm. Everything seemed to be going well until Ashley got a call from one of the organizing students on location at the McKay Events Center.

"Where is the signed contract with the Events Center?", they asked in a panicky tone.

Ashley, in the back seat and trying not to let Ralph Nader hear her, quietly said, "What do you mean? You don't have it?"

"No, we can't find it. And they're threatening to kick us all out if we can't find it."

"Uh... um..." Ashley said as she started biting her lip again.



Anonymous said...


Cat Woman said...

I'm yawning at the boring post this "yawner" leaves!

I love the diary. I love the BYU 25! Love you too Steve! You're awesome!

Stenar said...

So who is Ashley's grandfather?

Steven said...

Neal A. Maxwell

Stenar said...

Maxwell seemed like one of the nicer ones. I met him on the mish.

mike weber/fairportfan said...

While Cheyney is slime, i have been unimpressed with Nader since he built his career on a lie (or possibly just not being capable of understanding automobiles), and even less so since the early 70s when a report issued by one of his institutes over his signature was proven to be categorically falsified by one of the car magazines.

mike weber/fairportfan said...


That is, "...proven categorically by one of the car magazines to have been falsified..."