I am very out of touch with whatever the mythical average American might be, but Nick Coleman’s latest column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune gives me pause. Coleman spent time talking with patrons of a bar near Anoka Technical College, where John Kerry recently paid a visit.

In a place full of carpenters, plumbers, auto mechanics, factory workers and other blue-collar guys who used to vote for Democrats almost as devoutly as they used to drink beer (most were sipping soft drinks), I could only turn up one John Kerry voter.

The rest plan to vote for George W. Bush.

It’s a telling story, full of outrageous conspiracy theories (“[Teresa Heinz Kerry] seized the Heinz fortune and uses it to support radicals and international terrorists”). and unsupported assertions (“He tries to come off as a hunter. But he’s not a hunter. He’s a phony.”) that leave me flabbergasted.

The kicker: “To say that about him on TV, well, they must have the proof of it, or else they wouldn’t air it.”

Right. It’s on TV, so it must be true. Of course TV networks screen political ads for accuracy.

[Brief pause while I shake with violent incredulity.]

People believe this shit, or give it enough credence to make them hesitate, which is why I fear George Bush will win. “Are there any morons?” Tim McGuire once asked. “Why can’t the political parties get down and talk about the issues and assume everyone is capable of processing the information.” Because, Tim, the lies and moronic statements are more effective. I keep wanting not to believe it, but I keep being bitch-slapped by reality.

One niggling, almost unrelated point: it’s no longer Anoka Hennepin Technical College, and hasn’t been for some time. It’s just Anoka Technical College. I never saw any of the press get this right in stories about Kerry’s visit, and it perturbs me.