Mystery swirls around George W. Bush 'Miss me yet?' billboard
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Tue Feb 9, 4:58 pm ET
For all of the wonderful things life in the Internet age provides us, there are some notable drawbacks. One of them is that email and popular social media tools like Twitter and Facebook provide powerful launching pads for unchecked rumors and popular myths. Often these rumors and myths are proven false by websites like Snopes.com and FactCheck.org, but not this time.
The Internet has been abuzz with rumors that if you drive down Interstate 35 near the town of Wyoming, Minnesota, you'll see a billboard bearing the image of a smiling George W. Bush accompanied by the question "Miss me yet?" The online rumors were confirmed by this image:
(Photo courtesy of ABC News.)
Many initially thought the picture was a hoax created through Photoshop. But now multiple people have confirmed its existence. The mystery surrounding the billboard quickly morphed from a "Fact or Fiction?" story into a genuine "Whodunit?" Who paid for the ad, and what was their motivation? Are they Obama supporters sarcastically hoping to remind disgruntled liberals about how things were under Bush, or are they Bush supporters sincerely hoping to remind voters of the past administration?
To get some answers, Yahoo! News tracked down Mary McNamara, the general manager at the Minneapolis office of Schubert & Hoey Outdoor Advertising, the company which owns and leases out the billboard space.
"The ad was purchased by a group of small business owners who wish to remain anonymous," McNamara said. However, McNamara did offer this political bombshell: "Some of the people in the group who paid for this were Obama supporters."
McNamara told us that the message the group hoped to convey was one of "Hope and change, where is it?" She went on to say that she has yet to receive any negative feedback about the ad, which has been up for about a month, and added that some have even contacted her office offering to donate money to keep it up.
However, not everyone is buying McNamara's portrayal of the group's ideological makeup. Cindy Erickson, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party in Chisago County, where the billboard is located, suspects the ad's funders are conservative activists posing as Obama supporters.
"I don't have any idea who did it, but my thought was that they're Tea Party people," she said. "Regardless, it's been the subject of many conversations around here."
While Minnesota has long been a blue state, Chisago is part of a Republican-leaning string of suburban counties surrounding Minneapolis and St. Paul, and Obama lost the 2008 vote in Chisago by 10%. But Erickson argued that local Democrats who voted for him are content with the job the president is doing. She added that if the intent of the ad was to reflect poorly on Obama, then it's failed to deliver its message.
"I think most people have interpreted their message to be 'If you think it's bad now, don't forget how bad it used to be,'" she said. "It's just a goofy photo of him. It's goofy."
Yahoo! News' attempts to get a comment on the billboard from George W. Bush's representatives were unsuccessful.
-- Brett Michael Dykes is a contributor to the Yahoo! News blog