SACRAMENTO – Tea bags dotted the ground and dangled from ears, protest signs and baby strollers, but the real star of Wednesday's tea party at California's State Capitol building was Fox News. The network's live broadcasting tent threatened to steal the thunder of the main stage, the news event it was covering, as "Your World" host Neil Cavuto waved to excited fans. A group of middle-aged women with a taste for American flag accessories gushed over photos they had taken of Cavuto getting his makeup done. At one point, there was a gasp from the crowd: Someone had caught an in-person glimpse of one of Cavuto's on-air guests, conservative blogger/Fox contributor Michelle Malkin. "Well, that little lady is brilliant," a gray-haired man enthused to his wife. "She and Ann Coulter."
On the steps of the Capitol building, the Fox News fan fest gave way to angry fist-pumping. A wholesome family of eight, ranging from infancy to middle-age, took turns shouting. Kim, a 43-year-old homemaker, bellowed: "You hurt my family!" She argued that, thank to taxes and the stimulus package, "We've had to cut our long distance and caller ID." Her 22-year-old daughter, Ashley, with her baby sister strapped to her chest, cut in: "We even got rid of Netflix!" Nearby lurked a man wearing sunglasses, a baseball cap with the brim pulled low and a fake black goatee and elaborately curled mustache. It was a disguise, he explained. "There's radicals on my job," said the 50-year-old, who declined to give his name. "If they see me on TV we could get in a fist fight."
Sartorial creativity of that sort was on full display. There was a man wearing a beekeeper suit who declared that he'd been "stung to death by taxes," a triad of 20-something dudes dressed up as Native Americans, complete with headdresses, and a pint-size blond girl wearing a cumbersome poster the size of her body with the instructions, "Read 'Atlas Shrugged.' It's prophetic." Among the costumed pageantry, however, Robert Charles Schell, a 46-year-old lawyer, managed to stand out. He wore a sharp black business suit covered in tar and feathers. "The suit represents the politicians in Washington," said the John McCain look-alike. He then turned around, bent over and pointed to a stick poking out of the seat of his pants. "And that represents what's happening to us, or what I wish would happen to these politicians!"
Schell, as with most folks at the event, simply does not believe that President Barack Obama has cut taxes for the majority of Americans: "I think that's a crock," he said. "I just instinctively know that it's not a tax cut." Again and again, protesters said: I don't believe it, that's a lie, it won't work. The truth, said 52-year-old Karen Zembower, who gripped a sign reading, "One Big Ass Mistake America," is that "they're trying to get rid of the middle class." In Sacramento, that Fox News version of the truth was the only one on display.