Katie Couric has left the building. In case she still can't find us on a map, the building from which she departed Sunday -- along with the biggest stars in the media firmament -- was the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, where the 2008 Republican Convention could turn out to be as exciting as a model railroaders convention in February.


Upstaged by God, the GOP has dialed it down to pint-size pachyderms. The Big Foots aren't coming or already left.

Hey, media! We've been planning this party for two years! Could you at least stay till dessert? We've already confiscated many buckets of urine! Hey! Come back! Please?

We're here all week.

Hurricanes don't hit Minnesota, but as Gustav approached the other end of the Mississippi River, Republican knees started knocking. Conventions are exercises in political hot air. They can't compete with real hot air, so the GOP threw up some plywood in St. Paul and shifted to New Orleans, where poor people may lose their homes.

You could take a bus to the foreclosed precincts of north Minneapolis and see the same thing. But hurricanes are good TV. Who were the geniuses who scheduled a Republican convention so close to the anniversary of Katrina, during hurricane season, when the mere mention of the H word might send President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney running and leave candidate John McCain in the position of being unelected Top Guy?

He did a good job playing president Saturday, calling for prayers and preparation, turning the nation's thoughts to the crisis at hand, vowing to make sure the "mistakes of Katrina" are not repeated. It was good to have someone in charge.

But McCain could end up accepting the nomination by satellite while filling sand bags in New Orleans. While Minneapolis-St. Paul gets a cold shoulder.

And just when we have the urine thing whipped.

Aides to Crime Busting Bob Fletcher, the sheriff of Ramsey County, were convicted last week of swiping FBI sting money. But Crime Busting Bob can smell urine a mile away, and, in the days leading to the convention, he oversaw a police pee-hunting spree across the metro, the first time preemptive action has been taken against careless peeing indoors. The idea was to make St. Paul safe for protesters who flush. I acknowledge that some bad actors may behave like criminals during what is left of this Gustaved convention, but I cling to the idea that you arrest people for crimes they commit, not ones that they -- or you -- imagine.

Poor Minnesota.

There is More to Life here! We were going to showcase our cities, major portions of which are fenced off and emptier than downtown St. Paul used to be before Norm brought hockey back. We can't catch a break.

The last Republican convention here, in 1892, ended early when delegates, tired of bad food and bedbugs, rushed to the train stations.

Today's Republicans are quicker studies.

Nick Coleman • ncoleman@startribune.com.