Why the Commission on Presidential Debates didn't dub the second of the three Bush/Kerry mano a manos "Anheuser-Busch Presents the 2004 Presidential Debate" is beyond us. Nifty red, white and blue reporter's pads festooned with a golden A-B eagle and the inscription "Proud Sponsor of the Commission on Presidential Debates" were placed at each reporter's workspace. Also at each seat was a thick press packet replete with leaflets trumpeting the brewery's commitment to the environment and the Hispanic community, and its efforts to promote alcohol awareness.
Then there was all the free Anheuser-Busch beer. In the hospitality tent (food and drink courtesy of Anheuser-Busch), VIPs rubbed elbows with hacks who were given Anheuser-Busch frosted mugs by Bud girls. A retired tugboat captain was doling out the beer -- Budweiser, Bud Light and an offering that seemed to come straight from the future: Anheuser World Select.
The tugboat captain said most of the drinkers were opting for World Select over the other brands because it's new, and people are curious. The beer's not gonna floor you or anything. According to AWS's Web site (www.anheuser.com, flush with high-tech, uber-hip graphics, and quite silly), it's a pilsner made with "European noble hops, Two Row and Munich barley malt and our own 180-year-old strain of yeast." Put it this way: We didn't retch. But like all the brewer's products, it trades any hint of hoppiness -- which we like -- in favor of a quick, invisible finish.
On the plus side, the newest offering from Soulard's largest brewery comes in a sixteen-ounce bottle. An aluminum bottle. That's right, it's a can that's shaped like a bottle. The bottles look like something that would hold hairspray rather than beer, but then again, assholes can't break them in the streets. Of course, if an asshole picks a fight, you can't smash it over his head. If you do, it'll make an awkward and unconvincing ping sound. And that's exactly what happened in an altercation after the debate that TV viewers missed -- John Kerry rushed George Bush and clobbered him with a "bottle." It was worth the price of admission.