It's highly likely that somewhere between sixty and seventy thousand people showed up in Washington, D.C. on September 12th to protest something or other, and feel very, very proud of whatever point they didn't get around to making. It's likely, I think, that the estimate may be a slight lowball, and that 75 to 80,000 people showed up.


However, fuck me, because DC Metro figures show that the entire population of the American Southeast showed up to wave around Gadsden flags and magically suck the toxins out of the Earth.

Just how big was the September 12 protest march? It's hard to say. The estimate of "tens of thousands" is pretty conservative, given what I saw when I was down on the Hill that day. Talk of "millions," on the other hand, seems quite outlandish.

One objective measure that could offer some perspective is the Metro ridership number for Saturday. Although they are often sparing with other information (such as their employees' compensation), Metro posts the figures for daily rail riders (and for bus riders, with a month delay).

For September 12, there were 437,624 riders. That doesn't come close to Inauguration Day's 1.12 million riders, or even the 631,000 riders for July 4. But it still stacks up fairly well compared to this summer's Saturdays, which average out at about 253,000.

Based on that alone, it seems like an estimate of something above 100,000 is probably safe, especially considering that not everyone would have gone by Metro.

Makes perfect sense. Except that when you mix teabaggers and numbers, it's like baking soda and vinegar, except that instead of foam you get lies. An average of riders over the summer is artificially low. Congress is in recess, the President is usually not doing much in D.C. and the affiliated lobbyists, lawyers and others go on vacation. A better comparison would be the same day last year, during which 362,733 riders used the Metro, for a difference of 73,891 riders. Which, if you assume every single one of them was a teabagger, would give you...slightly over 70,000. Which is exactly what every reliable estimate pegged.

Now, if any of those extra riders was black, it's almost guaranteed that they weren't going to the 9/12 rally, as they're black. Chances are, they were going to the National Black Family Reunion, which I'm told thousands of long-legged mack daddies attended. (This analysis also doesn't account for the fact that this number reflects passenger entries and exits, which means that someone going both ways counts twice, which means that unless they all got rides back on their fleet of invisible buses, the likely number of teabag-related riders is somewhere south of 35,000, if even that.)

Tomorrow: the archangel Gabriel appears to Glenn Beck and informs him that if every person in America gives him ten dollars, he can draw the multitudes to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where absolutely nothing will happen. Stay tuned!