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Thursday, June 30, 2005 09:52 am

Land of drinkin’

Admitting to being a heavy drinker in his youth didn’t exactly hurt George W. Bush’s political career. It’s about time liberals learned something from the Republicans.

Drinking Liberally, which was launched two years ago in New York City, bills itself as an “informal, inclusive weekly Democratic drinking club.” The group, which recently formed a chapter in Springfield, might be described as one part think tank and one part support group — and the rest is gin and vermouth.

“I think drinking and politics go together fine, as long as you aren’t drinking during office hours. George Bush falls off his bike so often that it makes me wonder,” says 27-year-old Will Reynolds, a Springfield native and Sangamon County Democrats staffer who hosts the weekly event.

Reynolds wanted Springfield to have its own DL delegation (there are more than 80 chapters nationwide) just so that liberals and Democrats would have someplace to hang out socially. “Some people might not want to go to a [political] meeting but will go have a drink with other progressives,” Reynolds says.

Plus, this politically idle year, he maintains, provides the perfect opportunity for liberals to “get together and get to know each other on a personal level, as opposed to just getting together at campaign functions.”

A dozen liquor-thirsty liberals turned out to imbibe at the inaugural DL meeting at Boone’s Tavern in Springfield — a bigger crowd than Reynolds expected. The conversation was wide-ranging. The governor, he says, was a hot topic, but “we didn’t talk politics all night. About half the time we talked about politics.”

Though no one would blame liberals for wanting to numb the political pain they’ve suffered of late, Reynolds notes that not everybody drinks at DL meetings, and he insists that DL isn’t just an excuse to get wasted.

Rather, he says, “It’s more about meeting new people in an informal, fun atmosphere than drinking.”

Drinking Liberally in Springfield meets again at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 30, at Boone’s Saloon, 301 W. Edwards St.

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