BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Back in 1773, colonists protested English taxes by dumping crates of imported tea into Boston Harbor.
Nearly 237 years later, that historic act of revolt was rebooted as Sarah Palin headlined the Tea Party Express' stop in Boston. It was the second-to-last event for the rolling caravan, which wraps up on Thursday in Washington. Thousands turned out to hear Palin's familiar twang as she called for smaller government and lower taxes.
"Americans now spend 100 days out of the year working for the government before we even start working for ourselves," said the former vice presidential candidate amid the cheering. "It is time to remind
elected officials that government should be working for us."
Palin, smooth and polished, had the crowd on Boston Common hanging on her every word, cheering wildly. She seems to have taken a cue from the touring habits of classic rock bands. Load the set list up with greatest hits ("drill baby, drill") and toss in an occasional shout-out for easy applause (a reference to the upcoming Boston Marathon). Had it been darker, one might have expected swaying cigarette lighters and requests for Palin catchphrases, such as "you betcha" or "I can see Russia from my house."
"It is time we started earning some money for ourselves, for our families and for our small businesses," she added, warning that America is on a path where "our government s deciding how much people can have."
The former governor of Alaska led the crowd into a chant supporting domestic oil drilling, imploring America to no longer be kept "on its knees" by Saudi Arabia and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Other speakers had a hard act to follow. Droves of attendees left before hearing the insights of former
Saturday Night Live
star Victoria Jackson and actor Jim Labriola. Scott Brown, the recently elected U.S. Senator who became a lightening rod of controversy after taking over the seat once held by Edward Kennedy, didn't attend.
Scattered throughout the crowd were signs and banners protesting Obamacare, the cap-and-trade emissions market and big bank bailouts. Like the famous quote delivered by Peter Finch in the movie
, the mood could be summed up simply as, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."
President Barack Obama was the most prevalent target, treated as a super villain on par with Dr. No and Darth Vader. One participant's sign read "Fidel Castro says he likes Obama." A small child held a sign that read: "I'm four and I already owe $100,000 to the IRS."
Counter protests took a more absurd approach. One group carried signs identifying them as the "Green Coalition of Gay Loggers for Jesus." A Sarah Palin look-a-like strolled the grounds spouting what she herself called "B.S." The Lyndon LaRouche camp set up a table where a man, dressed in drag, claimed to be the Queen of England.
For all the venom spewed at socialists, a self-proclaimed group of them -- holding a banner that said "Bailout Workers, Not Banks" -- found common ground with the Tea Party.
"There are a lot of people who thought we were in favor of the bank bailouts. We just asked them, 'Can you see the sign? We don't,'" says Chris Persampieri of the group Socialist Alternative. "They opposed Obamacare and we opposed Obamacare. They oppose the bailouts and we oppose the bailouts. Neither of us think Wall Street should be getting any bailouts at all."
-- Reported by Joe Mont in Boston.