- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 26, 2004

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Judging by the bean vote, President Bush could be on his way to a second term.

A Tennessee company that has been in the chili business for more than 100 years is selling satirically packaged 15-ounce cans of beans in honor of Mr. Bush and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Every online order draws a vote, and the Republicans were ahead of Democrats by 2,402 cans to 2,316 as of Friday. Some shopkeepers are also keeping track of sales in their stores, with one Nashville bakery having Mr. Bush ahead by a 328-190 margin on its store billboard earlier this week.

“We don’t call it scientific by any means,” says Philip Connelly, president and chief executive of Nashville-based Vietti Foods. “But it could be what they call a bellwether, one of those barometers of public opinion.”

For Republicans, a grinning cartoon elephant graces Vietti’s “Conservative Republican Texas Chili Beans” on a label promising “Dubya would love” them.

The counterpoint is a smiling donkey on Vietti’s “Liberal Democrat Boston Baked Beans,” described as “liberally spiced Boston beans married to a rich ketchup-based sauce.”

The labels carry other messages, too.

“Let’s make sure no Kerry-bashing, meat-eating, fur-wearing, gun-toting, oil-drilling, SUV-driving, Limbaugh-listening, conservative Republican, capitalist pig gets elected,” the Boston baked beans bellow.

To which the Texas chili beans counter: “Let’s make sure no Bush-bashing, tofu-eating, tree-hugging, government-loving, NPR-listening, Hollywood-hobnobbing, animal-activist, bleeding-heart, left-wing socialist gets elected.”

The beans went on sale at $9.95 for a case of 12 in early September, around the time of the Republican National Convention.

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