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John McCartney and Herald staff | jmccartney@heraldnet.com
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Utah juice bar charges liberals $1 more

SALT LAKE CITY — A juice bar that charges liberals $1 more than conservatives says those on the political left are happy to oblige in the Utah oil town of Vernal - "all three of them," the owner jokes.

But wait. Do conservatives favor almond milk with blended avocado?

Yes, says George Burnett, a conservative who happens to be a fitness nut and a fan of healthy food. Weeks after he opened the I Love Drilling Smoothie & Juice Bar, he's listing one price for conservatives and $1 more for liberals, whom he blames for many of the country's problems.

"At my prices, it's still a good deal. But those who believe in big government and reckless spending cost all of us. So I should charge them more," Burnett said Wednesday.

Skeptics on the shop's Facebook page point out that Vernal, population around 9,000, has few liberals, so Burnett has little to lose by charging them more, winning the loyalty of roughnecks and "raking in the dough." The shop was devoid Wednesday of any liberal customers who could offer a rebuttal. Burnett and a son acknowledged they were stripping comments by liberals from their shop's Facebook page.

"Isn't this a form of discrimination — what if they charged Asians or Indians more?" Stephen Borton, one of Vernal's few Democrats, told The Associated Press. "This is dinosaur land. We get people from all over the world, and this is the wrong kind of publicity."

The nearby Dinosaur National Monument draws thousands of tourists.

Burnett notes he doesn't skimp on fresh ingredients but is restrained from trying to charge New York-style prices. He charges $5 for a 16-ounce juice smoothie — $6 for liberals.

Burnett says he doesn't interrogate customers, but if they offer that they're liberal, he charges more. Recently, a couple stopped by — he was conservative, she was liberal — and the husband "paid conservative for himself and liberal for her," he said.

Burnett can't really tell a liberal by appearance "unless they drive up with out-of-state plates in a Subaru," he said. "I know it because they flip me off."

Vernal is close to the Colorado border and a point of entry for mountain bikers seeking Utah's canyon solitude.

One customer, fitness coach Corey Peterson, says the shop's liberal surcharge is a "fantastic" idea.

"I think the liberals are the cause of a lot of this country's problems and they need to pay more," Corey said while sipping a green concoction of almond milk, avocado, spinach, cucumbers, kamut grass, Greek yogurt and honey-like agave.

Burnett said he was putting aside liberal surcharges for conservative causes. This month he's donating it to the Heritage Foundation.

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