Four years ago, Santa Barbara-based artist and graphic designer Dan Levin made international headlines with the most unlikely of products: toilet paper, festooned with the face of President George W. Bush, a poopy project to protest the reelection of the man many in America consider to be history’s worst leader of the free world. Since then, Levin’s Bush wipes have been featured on Good Morning America and David Letterman’s Late Show, used by Radiohead and Coldplay band mates, championed by celebrities Cher, Jeff Bridges, and Jon Stewart, and even purchased more than once by soldiers fighting in Iraq. More than 250,000 of the rolls were made and distributed; models for Vice President Dick Cheney and right-wing pundit Ann Coulter also hit the market, and Levin, in turn, enjoyed far more than just 15 minutes of fame.
Get ready for round two in the lefty TP frenzy: Levin recently unveiled rolls for Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain-and sales have skyrocketed since the announcement of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as running mate. “I didn’t want to do the McCain toilet paper. I was burnt on the deal,” said Levin, explaining that he wanted to “get out of this angry political bullshit.”
But his distributor said the desire was there, so Levin made up a batch. Sales took off “a little bit,” he said, but when Palin was announced, the interest increased exponentially. “I definitely don’t support McCain at all. I disagree with his policies completely, but the venom’s not quite there as it was with Bush,” said Levin, adding he could even see himself voting for the right Republican some day. “But with Palin, I’m so glad to have the McCain TP out there.” Among other gripes, Levin-a proud environmentalist who prints his rolls with soy-based ink on recycled paper-is concerned that Palin doesn’t believe in global warming and that, should McCain die in office, the country would be left in the hands of someone with very little experience.
The Bush-themed rolls can usually be found at record stores, novelty shops, and “open-minded” retailers in more left-leaning corners of America, including Midnight Sun in Santa Barbara. But Levin said that it’s also being sold at “quite a few stores” in Texas and the Deep South. “That’s amazing to me,” said Levin. “That takes balls.”