View From Big Jim's (Barack, MLK And Bobby Kennedy)

Fried Shrimp
Fried Shrimp
Fried Shrimp

"MLK??!!? MLK?!?!? Hey man, this guy is no Martin." So says the guy a couple of tables over. He's responding to another fella here at Big Jim's off Highway 253 in Southern Georgia who has just compared Barack Obama to Dr. King and Robert Kennedy.

"I didn't say he WAS Dr. King, I said he reminded me of him and Bobby," is the other guy's response. It is remarkable where and how you can hear what Americans are thinking and feeling. There is nothing that's not fried in this place. Brownie bites, cheesecake and oysters. All fried if you like it that way, or even if you don't. All fried except the conversation.

"Iowa is just one place," another person joins in. "If he wins in a few more places, then I'll believe he has a chance. We've seen this before."

"If Obama and Huckabee end up as the candidates, now that'll be a choice!" The lady speaking is also laughing mildly under her breath. "Which one can actually get something done? That's what I want to know, which one can lead?" We're talking over a couple of pounds of shrimp and a dozen oysters. "We shuck'em, you suck'em ." That's Big Jim's motto.

The old rule about talking politics and religion comes to my mind, so I figure maybe we should move onto safer ground.

"What do you guys think of the Patriots? Best football team ever?" Universal laughter. Respectful, but laughter none the less. "Football down here is all about college. Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, that's REAL football." The fella at the next table looks big enough to have played for any of them. "We like pro football down here, but college football is a religion."

So what about the Patriots? "Oh, they're good, but best ever? Come on, are you kidding?"


We talk for another half hour or so, everyday stuff. People are concerned about the economy, support the troops but are tired of the war, think the media (it dawns on me that I'm a part of that) talks to hear itself talk and doesn't pay much attention to it. And then somehow, someone (probably a Yankee) mentions "the war".

"Iraq?" I ask? No, THE war is the answer. "You don't mean the Civil War?" I ask, smiling. No one else is. "Check, please."

"MOA" is on the road in Mississippi and Alabama all week. You can catch our work on Power Lunch from 12 to 2, this week, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The South will rise again! Or at least that fried cheesecake will.

Questions? Comments? mikeonamerica@nbcuni.com