Searching for Hillary at Hooters


By Jonathan Darman

For months, I've listened to die-Hard Hillary Clinton supporters talk about their candidate's special bond with the white working class. Around Denver in the first two days of the Democratic convention I'd heard disaffected Hillary delegates wonder, loudly, if Barack Obama could relate to all the Bubbas out there who felt so fondly for their girl. And so, I set out to find some place in Denver where I could watch Hillary's big convention speech among her people. With four other journalists—three women and one man, I headed to a Denver Hooters.

The nearest Hooters to the Pepsi Center is at the Intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Arkansas Ave.—Clinton country. The plastic, illuminated palm trees outside were adorned with red, white and blue streamers and the sign on the highway showed Hooters had its eye on the convention: "Welcome Donkeys, Come Inside, We're Open Late."

But, for some inexplicable reason, inside of Hooters we discovered the good patrons didn't seem to have Hillary on their minds. The restaurant was lined with large flat screen TVs but none were tuned to the convention. We scrambled around the restaurant, in search of CNN. "You can have our table," said two men who saw us hovering. "We're hoping to watch Hillary Clinton at the convention," we replied. "In that case, you can't have our table."

Finally, after securing a guarantee from the manager that he would tune in enough televisions to the convention for us to be able to hear, we settled down at a table in the corner where we sipped Blue Moons (Hillary's favorite!) and ate fried pickles. Our waitress, Ashley, was, like every Hooters girl in America, clad in a tight white t-shirt and orange booty shorts. What do you think of Hillary Clinton, we asked her. "I don't get cable," she said, "so I don't really know."

In a couple minutes' time, Hillary took to the podium and, thanks to our chat with the manager, her voice flooded half of Hooters. But no one seemed to notice. The only applause all evening came when the cable blipped out for a moment and Hillary temporarily disappeared.

Ashley, though, was getting interested. After bringing us our greasy fare, she waited at a nearby table with a colleague. Looking at the television, they pointed and joked and even mimicked Hillary, turning to each other and pointing: "No way. No how. No McCain." Mostly though, they just watched. In a couple of minutes time, the woman on television in the orange pant suit disappeared from the convention floor, her speech was a triumph, her work was done. The women in the orange booty shorts, though, were still on the clock. As Ashley cleared our plates we apologized for all the inconvenience our need to see the speech had caused. "Are you kidding, I loved it," she said. "It gave me chills."