Last night I shook the hand of Terry McAuliffe. Believe me, I’m not saying that to brag. To say that I’m not a fan is an understatement. I’m just saying it to note that it’s possible to shake hands with someone that you disagree with across the board without being uncivilized. Liberals like McAuliffe can visit a college campus and never fear getting pied or shouted off the stage. Conservatives visiting college campuses are frequently not afforded the same courtesy.

The Clinton apologist and serious Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) sufferer came to the campus of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC–or “U Must Be Crazy”) to hawk his book, What A Party! He also did a Q&A and he teased me for being a) the only conservative in the crowd (even though I wasn’t) and b) for having a video camera there to capture his remarks.

How did he know that I’m a conservative? He asked the room to raise their hands if they voted for Kerry. Nearly all hands went up. He asked who voted for Bush. Mine went up. And I had the only video camera in the room. So I became the butt of several jokes, to the point that it earned me sympathy from the lady seated a couple of empty chairs over from me. He asked me, sitting in the back of the room, if I now wish I’d voted for Kerry. I gave him a nonchalant “No.” Being unhappy with Bush does not equate to pining for Jenjis Kerry. Given the same choice today, I’d still vote for Bush. That says more about Kerry than it says about Bush now, but it’s a fact.

The funniest moment came when McAuliffe asked the room to raise hands if they had read his book, and exactly one hand went up. One. I suppose all the many empty seats might have been filled with people who were at that very moment engrossed in his book, but we’ll just never know.

No, I can’t show you the video. It would make McAuliffe’s lawyers cry. Apparently they think he’ll sell more books if he visits college campuses, speaks to 60 mostly liberal people at a time and then none of his wit and wisdom end up on YouTube for the rest of the world’s enlightenment. I don’t get the strategy myself, but I gave him my word that the video won’t show up online, so it won’t.

But I can still tell you what he said. McAuliffe’s lawyers haven’t quite crushed all dissent yet.

His speech was typical Democrat boilerplate–I’m great, Democrats are the bestest, Republicans are bad, Bush is evil, Clinton was a humanitarian genius on a scale unequalled in the annals of time, etc etc. He was more entertaining than I expected when describing some of the silly and humiliating things he’s had to do to raise money for Democrats (stories that he pointed out–more than once–are in his book). PETA probably hates his story about rasslin’ a drugged, toothless alligator to secure a $15,000 donation from the Seminole Indians. That money went to Jimmy Carter’s failed effort against Ronald Reagan. So McAuliffe risked getting slimed or tailwhipped by a groggy gator to raise money for the president who helped usher in Tehran’s mullahcracy, and would later give Yasser Arafat and Hugo Chavez the democratic seal of approval. And he has the nerve to call Bush “the worst president in American history.” More than once.

McAuliffe was about as honest as I expected, which is to say that he didn’t strike me as being particularly honest. During Q&A, our own Ian pestered Terry Mac about his Global Crossing earnings. If you haven’t heard about that or his interesting land deal, well, you don’t know just how much of a hypocrite he is for criticizing the business deals of everyone named Bush. Ian did well going toe to toe with the man who ran the DNC for about 8 years.

Also during Q&A, several liberals in the audience came at McAuliffe from the left, giving him the chance to burnish his nutroots credentials. He took the opportunity and ran with it. One asked him why the US is so unpopular with Hugo Chavez, prompting McAuliffe’s BDS affliction to come out in full glory. Keep in mind that Chavez is turning all of Venezuela into an armed camp as he cozies up to the Iranian mullahs and turns himself into a clone of Fidel Castro. Keep in mind that Chavez calls himself an enemy of the US, and keep in mind that Chavez currently rules Venezuela by dictatorial decree as he nationalizes (a fancy way of saying “steals”) private companies. Keep in mind that Chavez was kept in power, in all likelihood, by a sham election certified real by Jimmy Carter. Keeping all of that in mind, McAuliffe actually blamed Chavez’s actions and attitudes on George W. Bush.

Which, if he’s being logically consistent, means Castro is entirely the fault of John F. Kennedy.

This is where Democrats earn the “blame America first” tag. Chavez is, to any rational mind, responsible for his own misbehavior. Chavez is just the latest in a very long line of anti-American Communists who bash us to make a name for themselves and to get their own people worked up over an external enemy. American presidents have dealt with tinpots like Chavez since Thomas Jefferson went after the Barbary Pirates. There’s nothing particularly new about Chavez, he’s just another ankle biting nuisance who might make himself dangerous. Blaming Chavez on Bush is beyond unserious and verges on the insane. Yet there was Terry McAuliffe on the stage, blaming Chavez on Bush. On Chavez McAuliffe put himself to the left of Charlie Rangel, who at least had the good sense to criticize Chavez for calling Bush “the devil” a few months back.

The other strange thing about this is, just who does McAuliffe think he’s pleasing by making Chavez out to be the good guy? Is there a major Hugo hugging segment of the Democrat party? It’s just bizarre to me that a supposedly centrist Democrat would take Chavez’s side against any sitting US president. That’s Harry Belafonte stuff, not what a supposedly serious political thinker would come up with.

I guess the flaw in that thinking is that McAuliffe can be called lots of things, but “serious” isn’t one of them. He is a cheerleader and a fundraiser, not a policy wonk. Throughout his speech, he offered exactly one solution to the plague of terrorism–talking to people who want to blow us up–and he offered exactly one idea to drive the Democrat agenda–Hillarycare II. His is a party that is essentially bereft of ideas. They want out of Iraq without regard to what will happen next, and they want all Republicans humiliated and defeated. Beyond that, they got nuthin’.

It was after the speech that I shook his hand. Ian and I spent a few minutes chatting with a couple of conservatives who also survived the speech, and then proceeded to get out of the building. Who was standing atop the stairs, talking with students before heading out to the street? Why, Terry Mac himself. So I got his attention, called him a “good sport” and shook his hand. He told us he’d have to sue the school if I post the video, which really isn’t my problem but word given, the video (which isn’t all that exciting anyway) stays offline. Then he went one way and we went the other. Down the hall a ways, he called out “It’ll be an interesting 2008!”

We last saw the great man of the people in his sleek black limousine, heading who knows where, while we allegedly rich Republicans made our way out in my 9 year old midsize.

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MORE (Ian): Here’s what I asked McAuliffe:

“Last week former Speaker of the House and possible Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich admitted having an extra-marital affair while he was attacked President Clinton for having one of his own. Several years ago you complained about Bush’s possible investment in Enron. However, in under 18 months you were able to make a $100,000 investment into a $1,800,000 gain in a company called named “Global Crossing.” Would you care to explain?”

First, I got the expected run around and then the Bush bashing. To make a long story short, he accused Bush of insider trading, in his case. However, when it came to his own actions he said his investment in Global Crossing was an “angel investment.” An angel investment, if you didn’t know, which I was also “educated” on, is when you invest in a start up company hoping to make a profit. Apparently he thought he “got me” by “admitting” not knowing exactly what an angel investment is.

Anyways, he said there is no proof that he made a so-called $1,800,000 profit. So, I asked him “did you did you not” and he denied it. Ha!

I was hissed at, booed, called a “smart ass” by the audience. But it was all worth it because Terry was anerved and Tom Schaller, the liberal professor and author of “Whistlin’ Past Dixie: How The Democrats Can Win Without the South” went insane!