Don't get mad. Get a T-shirt

Published July 28, 2004 3:16PM (EDT)

Or so say Vermont Democrats insulted by the obscene remarks Vice-President Dick Cheney directed at their own Sen. Patrick Leahy last month. Rather than respond in kind, Leahy kept his cool -- and his state party has cashed in on the incident by using it as fodder for a popular campaign shirt on sale at the Democratic National Convention.

"Annoy Dick Cheney," the blue-and-white shirts say on the front. "Vote Pat Leahy 2004." On the back is a recent work by cartoonist Jeff Danziger, showing a small student, labelled a "Young Republican," serving detention and writing lines on a blackboard: "I will not quote the Vice-President on the playground. I will not quote the Vice-Pres ... "

At a party on Tuesday for Leahy at the Parker House hotel in downtown Boston sponsored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, guests were rapidly snapping up the $25 t-shirts. A large double stack of the garments had been reduced to four within an hour, and some people were clutching them in one hand while balancing plates of food in the other. "It's a polite, lighthearted way to respond," said one Vermont Democratic Party workers selling the garments. "We're going to have to print up more this evening."

While the shirts were not technically created by the Leahy campaign, the senator, seeking his sixth term, is only too happy to draw attention to them -- and indeed, seems to miss few opportunities to poke fun at Cheney's boorish behavior.

"I like Marilyn to introduce me, and not Dick Cheney," joked Leahy, taking the podium at his party after welcoming remarks from songwriter Marilyn Bergman. The comment seemed to trigger another thought in Leahy's mind, as he immediately pointed to the ongoing sale by the room's entrance: "Have people seen these T-shirts?"

By Peter Dizikes

Peter Dizikes is a science journalist based in Boston.

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