Tea Party Express: Who are these people?

The tour buses of the Tea Party Express rolled into St. Paul for a rally this morning as part of a 48-stop 19-day cross country tour. So who are these guys?

Last month Michele Bachmann complained that the media depicts Tea Partiers "as toothless hillbillies, as rubes from the backwater, who don't know what they're talking about."

And while a perusal of the movement's border-line illiterate protest signs might suggest otherwise, she's got a point -- that description isn't always accurate.

It's certainly not an accurate description of the Tea Party Express, which isn't so much backwater rubes as veteran political operatives. It turns out that the group is actually the creation of a Republican consulting firm. In fact, over a four-month stretch last year, more than three-quarters of the group's reported spending went right back to that GOP consulting firm or their associates.

Tea Party Express has come in for some heavy criticism from other groups in the movement, like the Tea Party Patriots, who say its close ties to Republican operatives sell out the movement's anti-establishment message.

But the Tea Party Express tour rolls on, headed for another rally in Duluth this afternoon, and onwards to make it to Washington D.C. in time for tax day.

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