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Page last updated at 08:01 GMT, Tuesday, 26 August 2008 09:01 UK
Democrats descend on Denver convention

By Iain Mackenzie
Newsbeat US reporter, Denver

Jim Paoli
Democratic Party chairman Jim Paoli looks like a pleased egg

Jim Paoli is wearing a blue and yellow hen on his head.

The Democratic Party chairman from New Castle County, Delaware looks like a pleased egg as he grins at bemused passers-by.

He explains it's his way of supporting vice presidential candidate Joe Biden.

"This is our fighting blue hen and we're going to go out there and fight for the presidential race in November."

Such is the Democratic National Convention.

Thousands of excitable delegates from across the country have descended on Denver's giant Pepsi Centre to discuss party policy and wear novelty hats.

'Pretty dull'

If Disneyland had its own parliament, it would look like this.

"Some of this is absolutely absurd," says Sue Allen from Springfield, Ohio.

"It is kind of crazy, but I'm glad to see the enthusiasm because the last eight years have been pretty dull for us Democrats. Dismal and abysmal."

Aside from a mood boost, most Democrats say they've come here looking for a quick hit of "party unity".

The Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama nomination showdown has taken it's toll.

"I'm looking for the hey, hey, hey," exclaims convention first-timer Rosie Powell.

Democratic convention
Thousands of delegates descend on the Democratic Convention
"I am behind Barack Obama. We love Hillary and Hillary is saying come on, get on this wagon and let's change America."

Hillary's wagon, however, trundles on despite having lost three of its wheels.

As the convention got underway, her name remained on the ballot for presidential candidate.

She is widely expected to "release her delegates" later in the week.

However she'll stop short of commanding her legions to back senator Obama.

Such controversies are being closely followed by the world's media from the comfort of their respective grills.

'Easy Meat'

America's great rivals, CNN and Fox News have holed-up in converted restaurants.

While Rupert Murdoch's network is to be found in Brauns Bar and Grill, it's opponent appear to be going into business, with the snappily named CNN grill. Word is, they do mean a sirloin.

Such apparent absurdities are easy meat for the country's top satirical news programme.

The Daily Show is coming live all week from the convention. Anchored by host Jon Stewart, it boasts "The Best Fxxxxxx News Team Ever", a send-up of CNN's "Best Political Team on Television".

Correspondent John Oliver took a break from chasing Democratic delegates to speak to Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"You have to get rid of the genuine sentiment and underneath there will be nuggets of ridicule," he explained. "But the Democrats are nothing if not self destructive."

Ian and John Oliver
The Daily Show correspondent John Oliver and Iain Mackenzie
On the upcoming Republican Convention he added: "You have a soft spot in your heart for them, because lots of their views are inherently ridiculous."

As to the rest of the week, Oliver predicts a ramping-up of the comedy value, culminating in Barack Obama's appearance at the local football stadium in front of 70,000 supporters.

"I believe he's flying-in. You remember Michael Jackson had a rocket pack once? I think he's doing that," he joked. "Then Diana Ross is going to kick a football at him".

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