The Situation Rooms

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Is the difference between a liberal and conservative drinking group as wide as the chasm between their political views? You decide.

A group of self-proclaimed liberals met at the Libertine Bar in Lower Greenville on May 13 for the third organized "Drinking Liberally" soiree in as many months. This is a national group with chapters forming organically--of course--by one active citizen at a time-similar to the concept behind Meetup.org.

The bar had a low-key feel and a heavily tattooed and pierced bartender directed me to a back corner table where the Dallas Drinking Liberally group, about 10 people, sat talking calmly over a few Amstel Lights, Ugly Pug black lagers and glasses of water. Julie Abdinoor, 40, the Dallas group organizer, held a glass of Chardonnay and explained the basis for her initiative in forming the group: "It's hard being a liberal in a conservative town."

A wide range of subjects came up, from Michelle Obama's public persona to conspiracy theories about racism affecting public policy. And then Sandy Pofahl, the eighties ecstasy king, showed up and ordered a Blueberry Stolichnaya on the rocks, explaining that he was tired "of being around conservatives."

Or maybe it was the other way 'round.

Despite the group's name, the idea behind it was not to throw back beers to excess. "Drinking liberally, as in drinking with liberal people," said Abdinoor.

Geez--a meeting of minds. Way to spoil the fun.

A week later, the Dallas Young Republicans gathered for their monthly happy hour, at BlackFinn Saloon in Addison. Yup, the 'burbs. Just what you'd suspect. Valet parking was encouraged and the place was packed with high energy patrons--a different feel from the Libertine back in Lower Greenville. Inside, the Young Republicans were gathered around two tables, as well as sipping scotch by the bar. Smoke rose from one man's cigar at the table. In the back, a tall cowboy in a traditional hat stood above the loud chatter.

The Young Republican group is an official group organization that charges individuals $30 for membership. There is a Dallas County chair, Elizabeth Niles, 27, and then three vice chairs. Nothing like small government, you know. The conversations going on between the 20 or so gathered were less about issues and more like a bunch of friends hanging out and blowing off steam.

And of course there were the young politicians in the making. One such fellow did not want his picture taken since he was going into public service and felt it important to remain, at least in appearances, "impartial." Wade Emmert, a Cedar Hill council member running for county judge, also appeared to make his rounds.

The drinking was heavier at the Young Republicans gathering. Matt Hill, 31, and Brent Depperschmidt, 26, sat in bar stools sipping scotch and discussing the Rangers. And then somebody said birthday shots and the response from one vice chair could have been the representative voice: "I'm always down for birthday shots!" as she made her way over to the bar.

Didn't W start out this way? Look out.

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