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Live from Obamapalooza: Day One

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DENVER - The 2008 Democratic National Convention is the warmest, nicest, most courteous political convention ever. Total strangers just walk up and ask if you're lost or if they can help with anything. I'm from New York. All this friendliness disorients me. I'm used to Big Apple conventions. I feel like saying, "Don't you want to arrest me, or throw me in a cage, or deprive me of my civil liberties or something?"

The closest I've seen to a police confrontation was a mild discussion between a bicycle cop and three apple-cheeked teenagers who had chained their bikes to an off-limits railing. Not the kind of thing Crosby, Stills & Nash could write a song about.

Even the nutjobs trying to wreck the celebration are being treated with respect. A solitary pro-McCain protester carrying a sign that said "NOBAMA" caused barely a ripple, and gruesome, oversized photos of aborted fetuses on the side of a truck were no match for "Arrest Bush" T-shirts or buttons that depicted Obama as a Buddha.

Of course, everyone has Obama fever, including Obama, who isn't here yet, but gave an interview to the local Rocky Mountain News in which he showed that he now can't talk about anything without sounding like a candidate. Some questions were along the lines of "What's your favorite Denver restaurant?" and Obama said something like, "Favoritism has no place in an Obama administration. I believe that all people should be able to eat in the restaurant of their choice, under a single-payer dining system."

Unless Hillary's supporters stage a last-minute revolt, there is no actual business to be conducted at this convention. Everything is public relations, from the speeches to the platform to the Green Frontier Fest, where I sat on a bale of hay and ate hemp ice cream.

Instead, the real conventioneering is being done by non-delegates like me. As a comedian, I have participated, with fellow comics, in more backroom discussions and late-night deal-making than any politician here.

The feel-good, pleasant vibe makes me wonder--is this who we are now? A nation of nice people who will offer to help others? People who tolerate the unpleasant? People who make hemp ice cream?

I don't know. I'm no George Stephanopoulos. He was hanging out in the laid-back Tattered Cover bookstore here. And of course, he was really, really nice.

John Marshall is performing stand-up comedy in Breaking Convention, with Scott Blakeman, Jimmy Tingle and Will Durst, Aug. 26 & 27 at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 28 at 1 p.m., The Bug Theater, 3654 Navajo Street, Denver, 303-477-5977, BrownPaperTickets.com/event/39035.

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