New Bush in the yard grows on both parties

Friends, foes united in appreciation of president's likeness on garden gnome

For the Record

September 26, 2004|By THE HARTFORD COURANT

There's no mistaking the 10-inch-tall ceramic man in the neighbor's yard. It's George Dubya, giving passers-by a thumbs-up.

The presidential gnome, mass-produced and hand-painted in Roseville, Ohio, is robed in a blue long-sleeve shirt, a belt with a yellow lone star buckle and cowboy boots. His ears protrude in gnome-like fashion from under a pointy red cap. Each gnome costs $29.95.

"I think it's humorous," said Sam Girton, creator of the Bushgnomes and a professor of visual communication at Ohio University. "I think that people are ready for some election news that's light."

The garden gnome's political agenda remains ambiguous. The gnome likenesses of the 43rd president raise their left hand in a confident thumbs-up. Their right hand remains hidden behind their back, fingers crossed.

The apparent gesture of deceit doesn't seem to bother the Republicans. The gnomes have been bought by voters of both parties since they started selling on Girton's Web site,, in late August.

"I had a lot of Republicans say that he's really cute and his fingers are crossed for good luck," said Girton, a 36-year-old Democrat. "I think that no matter what side you're on, you look at it and you just laugh."

Girton got the idea for the Bushgnomes from political cartoons, where Bush would be depicted with large ears. Enlisting the help of a friend who draws cartoons for Marvel Comics, he got started.

"I think it's fantastic," said Lee Ungemach, of Hull/Alpine Pottery, which makes the gnomes. "It's cute; I don't think it's in bad taste."

Larry Hamel-Lambert, associate professor of visual communication at Ohio University, liked the Bushgnomes and keeps his indoors to protect it from Ohio weather. He thinks the gnomes might become a collectible someday.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Girton has considered giving the Democratic candidate equal time by creating a John Kerry "fairy," but says he likely won't unless Kerry defeats Bush on Nov. 2.

Girton is pleased with the response to the Bushgnome; he estimates that he has about 500 orders pending.

"This thing is like the Tickle Me Elmo of the election year. It's really taken off."

The Hartford Courant is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.