- - Sunday, August 26, 2012


TAMPA, Fla. — Here at Thee DollHouse, political discourse is not normally what gets everybody so excited. There is thumping music, spinning lights, flowing booze and plenty of entertainment.

But with the Republican convention in town, the place has taken on a decidedly political flair. That is because small business owner Warren Colazzo, a modern American patriot if there ever were one, sensed an opportunity to make some money.

None of that stimulus stuff. We’re talking his very own hard-earned money he’s gambling with. No way President Obama can claim Mr. Colazzo didn’t build this.

So, according to his figures, he dumped more than $1 million into the establishment. New lights, sleek granite bar tops, new flooring, shiny new skinny brass columns everywhere. The place has taken on a real touch of class, explains one of his employees surveying the improvements pridefully.

“He takes good care of us,” she says.

In a further effort to appeal to conventiongoers Mr. Colazzo slathered the place in that pheromone most likely to catch the hearts of Republicans: Over-the-top, unabashed, “I love America!” patriotism.

American flags wave reverentially on giant screens. Servers dressed up in full Captain America swimsuits. And patriotic marches give the place its groove.

In his most audacious grab, Mr. Colazzo hired a Sarah Palin impersonator who struts in to “Hail to the Chief” and does her thing, concluding her “Salute the Guv” performance by handing out — or, at least, letting patrons remove from her possession — scrolled-up Constitutions. Which turn out not to actually be Constitutions, but that’s just show biz here in Tampa.

“E Pluribus Unum!” shouts one of his employees, excitedly pumping her fist in the air, drawing puzzled looks from a few confused patrons.

I mean, if this is how most of America outside of the elite enclaves of the establishment political set sees the Republican Party and Mitt Romney, then that’s not so bad. In fact, what more could a political party want to be known for than, well, actually loving the country they seek to govern. Indeed, you get far fewer birth certificate questions that way.

One of Mr. Colazzo’s employees — we will call her Francine — has high, spiky black hair, an innocent face and upper eyelashes that are three-quarters of an inch long.

“Are those things real?” I ask her.

“Who cares if they look good?”

Francine calls herself a “recreational” observer of politics, but says she has voted in every election since she was old enough to vote. Like many in her line of work, she is a Ron Paul advocate.

“Why do you like Ron Paul?” I ask her.

“Oh, I basically just agree with everything he says!” she enthuses.

Wow. Marriages are more tenuous than that, which is fairly obvious looking around Thee DollHouse.

“Like, what, for example?” I ask.

“Well, I work hard and like to make money. He wants me to be able to keep it,” she says flatly.

My goodness, I think. These people should be bused in to teach basic civics courses to all the kleptocrats in Washington.

Who was your favorite president of your lifetime?

“Oh, Bill Clinton. Definitely,” she says with a satisfied nod.


“Because the economy was good when he was in.”

Who did you vote for last time? Barack Obama, she says.

“Will you vote for Obama this time,” I inquire.

She crinkles up her nose and shakes her head. “No way.”

• Charles Hurt can be reached at charleshurt@live.com

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