Before I start telling you about the protests, the Broadway show and my next door deli, I must tell you about the Naked Cowboy. He’s a nearly-naked guy who stands in the middle of Times Square (in the island in the midst of the street), plays his guitar and sings. He wears a cowboy hat, cowboy boots and white briefs with the words “naked cowboy” on the rear which kind of reminds me of the sorority girls at college who would have their sorority’s greek letters plastered to the back of their shorts or sweats. Not a good idea to call attention to that area. Unless you are the naked cowboy.

I saw the street performer as I was out walking this morning. My hope is that Leon Moseley, the Iowa GOP co-chair, gets his picture taken with the naked cowboy. If you’re unfamiliar with Leon, he’s a very tall black man with a nice accent who’s lived in Waterloo for years and often wears a white cowboy hat.

Which he was wearing this morning when I, Rod Boshart of the Cedar Rapids Gazette and Charlotte Eby of the Lee Ne4wspapers walked back into the hotel lobby after our 7:45 a.m. breakfast at the deli a block away. (We like it. I ate lunch there; Rod got dinner there.) I asked Leon if anybody had given him any guff about the hat, but as you might suspect from someone wearing a black marine t-shirt that read “Bad to the Bone” — he said no one was giving him guff. Leon said he’d spread the message that Iowa is all about God & country and service if challenged by any of the protestors.

Then, another Iowa delegate walked up and asked Leon if he knew what time church was. “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout no church,” Leon replied. Leon allowed as how he hadn’t seen a cathedral anywhere near the hotel. I advised Leon that Dave Roederer, the former aide to Governor Branstad who is now Bush/Cheney campaign chair in Iowa, was going to the nearby cathedral’s 10:15 mass, hoping to catch the American priest who could be in line to be Pope if/when John Paul dies. Oh, and a report back from Roederer was that the cardinal did not do the homily this a.m.

Roederer & his wife, Paula Dierenfeld, both ran in Central Park this a.m. Paula says she accidentally ran six miles, as she decided to run against a group of racers rather than run in the pack without a number on. The route ended up being circular, but a bit longer than she’d anticipated.

Larry McKibben, a state Senator from Marshalltown, went down to the area around Madison Square Garden to watch the protestors for about an hour and a half today. He went through two of those throw-away cameras, snapping pix of all the police units — cavalry, foot patrols, even moped fleets were mobilized and the protestors. McKibben says he’ll give the pix to his next-door-neighbor, who is the police chief in M-town. McKibben and his wife left the area when they talked with a clerk in a convenience store who was rattled about the size of the crowd and worried it could turn ugly.

At 4:15 today, the phone in my hotel room rang, just as I was finishing up the story Radio Iowa listeners will hear Monday morning. (It’s a delightful piece about an Iowa delegate who is making her first trip to NYC and her first convention; click on the link on the webpage here to read and hear it.)

Anyway, Rod called and announced he had two tickets to the Broadway show the Iowa delegation was going to tonight. I asked what time I needed to meet him in the lobby, and he said 4:30. That gave me 15 minutes to shower, dry & style my hair, put on make-up and don my glad rags. I made it by 4:30, friends.

So, we sat amidst some of the Iowans, and saw “Bombay Dreams” — a romp about an “untouchable” who dreams of becoming a star in India’s film industry. One of the main characters in the play is a eunuch. In case you’re not familiar, I’ll use a down on the farm reference. A eunuch is to a man like a steer is to a bull. Get the drift? Anyway, some called the character a cross-dresser, and a few of the Iowa delegates walked out. One man from Sumner says he escorted three ladies back to the hotel. (The theater in which this play is staged is a block away from the Ed Sullivan Theater where Letterman does his show. It’s just around the block from the Iowa delegation’s hotel.) Anyway, another told me he was offended and would have preferred seeing “The Lion King” or “Fiddler on the Roof.” State Senator Larry Miller said it was no “Hello Dolly” but it had a nice story line and he said most republicans are more open-minded than they get credit for (see story on page).

After the curtain call, an announcement was made. The Iowa delegates and delegates from 10 other states and four US territories who were in the theater were asked to stay inside “until it’s safe to leave.” Seems the protestors were outside. The powers that be either wanted the throng to make its way past the theater, or they wanted to wait ’til enough cops arrived to keep things sane.

Anyway, the cooped up delegates started chanting “Four more years,” to those outside, which they couldn’t see or really hear for that matter. But once everyone was released from the theater, the verbal melee started. Lots of profanity from the young protestors outside. “Just go home” was a popular protest cheer. “You should be ashamed,” was another, but the chanters had a hard time with the cadence of that. Then the delegates started yelling back.

Leon Moseley called the whole scenario an “appetizer” of what’s to come this week, but he said the protestors won’t deter repubs from their main goal of defeating John Kerry. “You gotta understand something about the devil,” Moseley told Boshart and I. “The devil will try to throw you off. The devil will try to keeps you busy. We’re not going to chase rabbits. Okay? You don’t take a high-powered rifle and go shoot rabbits. We are going to get the big one.”

I am going to get some sleep now. Chuck Hagel, the NE Senator, is to speak to IA delegates tomorrow morning.