San Franciscans Want to Put President Bush's Name in the Toilet

A group called the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco has launched a ballot initiative that would rename a city sewage treatment plant the "George W. Bush Sewage Plant."

A petition is being circulated that would put the measure up for a vote in November. If it passes, it will rename the city's Oceanside Treatment Plant for the 43rd president of the United States.

Republican Party spokesman Leo Lacayo said it's just another move from the "hate Bush crowd."

"First of all, it's insulting," Lacayo said. "Second of all, it demonstrates to what lows some people will reach in order to oppose this president and the policies that have kept this country safe during his mandate."

Virginia-born activist and ordained minister John Rinaldi, a co-sponsor of the petition who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year under his nickname "Chicken John," said the initiative would turn "every toilet in San Francisco into basically a shrine for George W. Bush and all his great achievements in his eight years as our commander in chief."

Rinaldi — flush with pride about the idea — said renaming the plant is "the highest honor available to us."

Organizers have collected around 1,100 of the more than 10,000 signatures needed to get the measure on the ballot in November. And while local Republicans call the effort a waste of time and money, they also say it has a good chance of winning if it gets on the ballot.

"Naturally, we're going to fight it," said Howard Epstein, the chairman of the city's Republican Party.

They call the move just another "crazy" idea from the "weirdo" transients who call San Francisco home.

The treatment facility, near the city's zoo, processes about 17 million gallons of wastewater a day, which then is discharged into the Pacific Ocean.

Bush never has visited San Francisco, a city known for its liberal politics, during his term in office. He came close once, attending a fund-raiser just outside the city.

Lacayo said the initiative has nothing to do with Bush or the federal government and that someone would even float the idea is ridiculous.

"It's a local cleaning plant for our own necessities," he said, "and it's just one more way of wasting money and the taxpayers' time."

Epstein promised to counter the campaign with mailers and media outreach if it qualifies for the ballot.

Rinaldi said no one should be pooh-poohing the petition.

"You may be thinking we're kidding over here," he said. "This is the best memorial that San Francisco is going to give to George Bush, and he should appreciate it for its face value, for exactly what it is. It's actually the least we can do."

As for what the White House thinks about the campaign: They'd be happy if the whole idea was just flushed down the toilet.

Said a spokeswoman: "It doesn't dignify a comment."