The GOP convention in Tampa is spending $20 million to build a hi-tech stage for Mitt Romney that will convey what flesh and blood has so far failed to do: warmth, trust, intimacy (the same thing that I get from iTunes for $.99 when I purchase an Al Green Golden Hit from the '70s).

If you are a Republican, you are likely spinning Loggins and Messina's

Pat Bagley / Salt Lake Tribune (click to view more cartoons by Bagley)

"Love the One You're With" (also $.99 from iTunes) in your head as you gaze at a photo of your parents' preferred prom date: Mitt smiles back at you. He has much to recommend him: He has money sticking out of his pockets. His friends in the photo are eating it.

You swallow hard and pretend to be happy. When you remember how close you came to eloping with that awful Donald Trump, you feel a little bit better about things.

And yet . . . there is such a thing as magic: love works in mysterious ways. The Big Date in Tampa may pull back the curtain on a sexy-as-hell Mitt Romney, who has secretly been hiding tons of charm and charisma just for this moment.

Romney will stride masterfully onto his custom-built conservative love-grotto. He will push all the right buttons in the right order of the GOP body politic. He will toss the appropriate tonnage of red Republican meat. He will dis our socialist president to the rousing backbeat of "You Didn't Build That." Convention folks, drunk on a heady mix of family values and Old Spice, will become incautious and ...

Republicans desperately want to be in love. Instead, they will wake up with Mitt Romney.

On the other hand, we in Utah have been in love with Romney, like, forever. And we just, like, totally don't get why everyone doesn't, like, totally love this guy!!! I mean, the guy is, like, hot! And, like, married to his first wife (hot!). And, like, his five sons are like, hot, too. OMG!

Romney is handsome with a million-dollar chin, which he is smart enough to deposit in Swiss and Cayman bank accounts. Rich and smart! We swoon at the thought that he is one of ours.

And he saved the Olympics. Before Romney arrived to take things in hand, we Utahns were afraid we would be enslaved for generations in chains of socialist debt to the U.N. There was even a small town in Southern Utah that declared it was a U.N.-free zone. Our children often woke in the middle of the night screaming about the men in blue helmets coming to take them to slave their little lives away in sunny French sidewalk cafes.

Utah is on track to give Romney an 80 percent plurality in November: one of the biggest affirmations of popular solidarity since the Old South ran a Lincoln-free ballot in 1860.

In the Beehive State, Romney is a rock star.

We Utahns celebrate Romney's awkwardness and his corny humor. We understand his principled stand concerning keeping his tax returns private. In Utah, we have a saying: It's sacred, not secret. It explains our reluctance to address any number of uncomfortable topics, from sex to why blacks were denied equality in the LDS Church for 150 years. Denial has worked well for us. If God wanted us to see Romney's tax returns, He'd have leaked them to Fox News.

In short, we Utahns "get" Romney.

I've used the term "Utahn," but "Mormon" works as well. After all, what is the difference between church and state in Utah? About two blocks—the LDS church headquarters being just a short stroll from the Utah State Capitol. The state legislature is nearly 90 percent LDS, and understanding the state's screwy liquor laws is impossible without first having a handle on LDS doctrine. If you really want to "get" Romney I guess you have to be here; but the information is likely privileged. Or sacred.


Award-winning cartoonist Pat Bagley describes himself as a fifth generation "retired" Mormon from Salt Lake City. He is a graduate of BYU and served a two year mission in Bolivia. For 32 years Pat has been the editorial cartoonist for The Salt Lake Tribune, and his cartoons are exclusively syndicated internationally by Cagle Cartoons. Email comments to Pat at [email protected]