A Karl Rove-less White House went back to work on Tuesday (September 4), but although the man referred to by many as "Bush's Brain" may be gone, his presence is still felt by six American University students who spent Labor Day in a Washington, D.C., police station.
The students turned themselves in Monday after warrants were issued for their arrests, stemming from an April 3 protest on the university's D.C. campus; each was released on $100 bond. While none of the students were arrested at the time of the protest (no D.C. police were on campus at the time), with the new school year beginning, they face misdemeanor charges of crossing a police line and disorderly conduct. All six are due in district court on Wednesday (and are expected to agree to a $100 fine for a single charge of crossing a police line), which should mark the end of this unusual legal escapade.
"The letter I got from American University said I was in trouble for 'exposing my buttocks,' " Joel Gardner, 20, told MTV News. "I mooned Karl Rove."
According to The Washington Post, the other five students facing charges in the matter are Elizabeth Sanders, 20; Eugene Johnson, 19; James Worsdale, 20; Matthew McCoy, 21; and Michael Canning, 21. None of them exposed themselves to Rove, but some lay down in front of his car and others attempted to carry out a citizen's arrest as he left campus after a speech to the College Republicans five months ago.
An estimated 80 students took part in an organized demonstration outside of the event, and several were disciplined by American University after the incident. Until recently, the students were unaware that the U.S. attorney's office had served the school with a subpoena seeking information about the event. The Secret Service completed its own investigation and informed the university on August 24 that warrants would be issued for the arrest of the six students. Kim Bruce, a representative for the Secret Service, confirmed to MTV News that the agency took part in the investigation, but she did not comment further.
"I got a crazy call from the dean of students telling me they got a bunch of these warrants," Gardner said. "She was really nice and said I should be careful about traveling out of state, because if I even got a moving violation I could've been taken in. She also told me to be careful where I sleep, which is funny because I've been sleeping on couches all over D.C."
The students quickly hired a lawyer, who began negotiating with the city's attorney general's office before they turned themselves in. If the students agree to the $100 fine as expected, each will end up with an arrest on their record, but no conviction will show up in their police files.
"I really never thought it would come to this," said Gardner, who did not take part in the larger demonstration against Rove's presence on campus. "I got out of class and there was a protest. I knew Karl Rove was supposed to be on campus, so I figured that was it. I have sympathies toward what the protesters were saying, but I'm uninterested in party politics. So I just ran up there and saw this sedan. And then I saw his big, bald head in the back seat, and I knew I had my target. ... It was a very intimate moment between me and Karl Rove."
Rove, who stepped down from his position as President Bush's chief strategist last week, could not be reached for comment (see "Karl Rove, A.K.A. 'Bush's Brain,' To Step Down On August 31").
"The moon is a terrific form of tomfoolery that is completely forgotten these days," Gardner said. The act of mooning dates at least back to 1346, during the Battle of Crécy in France, when several hundred French soldiers allegedly exposed their derrieres to British archers.
"You can moon your friends and it can be totally funny, or it can be really sincere, like when you moon Karl Rove," Gardner added. "There is little response someone can give after that."
Fortunately for Gardner, things should get back to normal after court on Wednesday. He just needs to come up with the $100 for his fine and approximately $500 to pay his lawyer. His friends are selling T-shirts on the Internet to help raise funds. While his parents won't be shelling out for his shenanigans, they do support him.
"My mom is going to buy a shirt," he said, adding, "and she told me to be careful who I show my bottom to."