The great 'Dubya' debate starts here

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The Independent US

The message passing drivers take from the roadside billboard will depend largely on their political leanings.

It is either a cheerful attempt to convince you that, for all the criticisms levelled at Barack Obama, he is an improvement on the previous occupant of the White House. Or it is a stern reminder that, despite the historically low approval ratings with which George Bush left office, a good portion of America now feels a twinge of nostalgia for "Dubya". Since the sign asking "Miss me yet?" occupies a prominent spot by the I-35 motorway in Minnesota, it is a fair bet that most people who drive past it fall into the latter camp.

Speculation about the exact purpose and provenance of the mysterious billboard has been raging since it was first erected early last month and both right- and left-wing internet sites began posting photographs of it.

Although there was no obvious claim of responsibility, the firm that owns the advertising site, Schubert & Hoey, eventually revealed it was "paid for by a group of small businesses who feel like Washington is against them and want to remain anonymous".

They certainly succeeded in stirring up public debate. The image of Mr Bush is now all over the internet, where it has been viewed hundreds of millions of times. Yesterday, it was in The New York Times, illustrating a comment piece arguing that "more people miss him than don't".

Debate about its message has captured the mood of a polarised nation. National Public Radio was forced to prevent its website users from leaving "comments" about the poster, citing: "personal attacks and name-calling".