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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 10:08 am | Fair 57º


C-SPAN Bus Rolls into Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara High students climb aboard during vehicle's educational stop on campus.


C-SPAN is no MTV, but that didn’t blunt students’ enthusiasm for the C-SPAN bus that made an educational stop Thursday at Santa Barbara High.

All morning, students clambered aboard to check out the bus, which doubles as a traveling TV studio for presidential campaigns and an educational outreach tool for the cable channel.

Once inside, students heard a 10-minute talk from a staff member about C-SPAN’s unique brand of unedited, uninterrupted, understated — and sometimes downright uninteresting — coverage.

But the students didn’t seem bored. On the contrary, many of them seemed strangely enthused. A teacher said most came inside voluntarily.

Clearly some of the enthusiasm was due to the curiosity any student — or teacher — would have about a large bus emblazoned with the word “C-SPAN” idling outside the school’s front entrance. But the air also seemed to be filled with the excitement of the presidential election.

Social studies teacher Lawrence Gamble, who stood watch for a time beside the parked bus, estimated that two-thirds of his students are supporters of Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

He added that many students also support Ron Paul, the Republican candidate described by many as a Libertarian, who has criticized the federal government’s war on drugs.

“Hillary (Clinton) is kind of an old person to them,” Gamble said of the Democrat. “Like me — old.”

A straw poll of students getting on and off the bus seemed to support Gamble’s estimate.

Freshmen Lorena Lomeli and Griseld Carmona — who, incidentally, begged Gamble to let them on the bus — said they’d vote for Obama if they could. (They didn’t have to beg; the bus was there to educate.){mosimage}

“He’s a handsome young lad,” Lorena said of Obama. “I like that he’s for change. And that he’d be the first black president.”

Griseld chimed in: “Hillary Clinton stole every little girl’s dream — to be the first woman president. Plus, her husband, he’s practically running her campaign.”

Some of the students supporting Obama weren’t as enthusiastic about it.

Karl Sandriche, a senior, said he supports Obama, but only “by default.” This is because Karl’s first choice — Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del. — dropped out after the Iowa caucus on Jan. 3.

“The worst part is that everyone thinks it’s cool to support Obama,” he said.

And not every high school student is a Democrat. Senior Ryan Kimball said he likes Mitt Romney, the Republican former governor of Massachusetts.

“It’s kind of the way I was brought up,” he said. “My dad is very conservative. (Romney) has a good business background, and I believe the country should be run like a business.”

Meanwhile, inside the bus, the C-SPAN staff members imparted some interesting tidbits about the channel.

For instance, even though C-SPAN is to the government what ESPN is to sports, it does not receive a penny from taxes. Instead, the entire budget comes from cable subscribers, who unwittingly pay about a nickel a month to the company through their cable bills — provided the local provider chooses to broadcast C-SPAN.

Because it is fully funded in this way, C-SPAN has no need for advertising.

For Karl Sandriche, however, the most appealing thing about C-SPAN is its aversion to sound bites and pack-journalism tendencies.

“I like the fact that they don’t just cover the front-runners,” he said.

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