Coming back to Washington with cigarette smoke in my hair and clothes was a small price to pay for spending a blissful few days in the Republic of Texas.

Few experiences compare with rolling along a Texas highway in an SUV with Rush on the radio.

We stopped for lunch at Shobel’s, a restaurant somewhere between Austin and Houston decorated with dead deer antlers. The smoking area was filled to capacity, while the non-smoking section was deserted. I ate buttermilk pie’the Long Horn state’s sublime answer to flan.

Are there more people in America like the folks in the Republic of Texas? Or are there more flan eaters who sneer at Bush? And their allies, the wannabe sophisticates in the hinterlands, the worst sort of liberal?

Come November, this could be the key.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, for a few months, the flan folks dial it down on most issues. Gay marriage, which the courts and mayor of San Fran put on the front burner, is the exception. On other cultural divide matters, however, I think we’ll see the elites trying to pretend to, as they might put it, look more like America.

In my opinion (see ‘Inkwell thanks the Academy’maybe”), the subdued tone of the Oscar ceremonies was a harbinger. The blue state elites don’t want to upset us red state types.

Not until after Nov. 4.