Yes, it’s true that there is a cost to attending a national convention. Missouri’s delegates pay for their transportation and their hotel – and believe me, the hotels in Midtown Manhattan aren’t cheap. $200 a night is what you can expect to pay in these “Heavenly” hotels. But there is good news in that most of the meals are provided by somebody else. Usually a corporation pays for a delegation’s breakfast or lunch … making things a little easier on the wallet for people who are already paying more for one night than they would in a whole week at that motel chain with the big red number 6.

I have done my best to spend Learfield’s money – outside of the hotel and airfare, that is – but have not had much success doing so. Every time I think there’s an opportunity to run up the old expense bill, another freebie comes along as I chow down the Missouri delegates. I have no doubt Clyde Lear is pleased with the generosity of General Motors and others who are graciously feeding this roving reporter. For a moment on Thursday I thought I might have a chance to rack up a dinner expense. Lo and behold, there was no food offering prior to the final night of the convention. I thought long and hard about how best to spend Clyde’s money. I was prepared to do my best to “eat” into the company’s profits. But then a friend of mine from Senator Kit Bond’s office in Washington showed up and took me to dinner. She wouldn’t even let me leave the tip! How – oh how – can I spend Clyde’s money if this kind of thing keeps happening. Is there no end to this madness? Actually, there is an end. The Republican National Convention is over and it’s time to head home to Jefferson City.

Before I go, I’d just like to toss in an observation about human behavior. Well, the behavior of some humans. During one of the all too few down times in this convention I journeyed to “Ground Zero,” where the World Trade Center twin towers once stood. I hadn’t been back to New York since the September 11th attacks, so I wanted to see the area. Outside the perimeter of the fenced in World Trade Center space are the conspiracy people offering printed material and videos and the like, telling anyone who wishes to pay for a book or a video that there was an evil plot afoot … that bringing down the twin towers might have been the work of the U.S. government.

Anyone who has visited Dealy Plaza in Dallas, the site of the JFK assasination, has seen these people. They’re in place to try to convince visitors that what is accepted as fact never really happened the way we’re told it happened. I have my own theory when it comes to these things. If JFK’s death had been blamed on someone standing on the motorcade route or hiding in a manhole … the first thing the conspiracy nuts would say is that the “real” gunman was hiding on an upper floor in the Texas School Book Depository Building. But because Lee Oswald was arrested for the killing, the conspiracy nuts feel compelled to automatically dismiss any Oswald connection as even a remote possibility.

Which bring us back to the World Trade Center. The conspiracy nuts are out in force, ready to pounce on people from all over the world who visit the site to pause and remember one of this nation’s and this world’s saddest and most horrifying moments. In a period of not more than a minute, I was accosted several times by people wanting to tell me the “truth” about what happened at the World Trade Center … for a fee, of course. Bottom line: Come to New York, see all that the world’s greatest city has to offer, visit the site of the World Trade Center. But be prepared for a Dallas-like experience in which someone trying to make a buck will try to hustle you with some whacked conspiracy theory. Feel free to tell them to get lost as you devote your thoughts to what really happened that fateful day … remember what some evil people wanted to do to this country … and hope it never happens again.

Wow, I don’t want to end on a down note. So, I’ll just wrap it by saying it was GOOD to be back in one of my old stomping grounds .. but it’s GREAT to be heading home to Missouri. I am gonna sleep for a week!