"Conferred for the effort and peaceful intention of getting the oil and filter changed"
In Rockwall County, a place known for its conservative politics, one mechanic is getting a lot of attention for his latest promotion: a Nobel Peace Prize, free with every oil change.
The offer, which pokes fun at President Barack Obama's recent Nobel Prize win, sits on a 4-by-10-foot sign in front of Horizon Auto Center on the outskirts of Rockwall.
Owner Ken Sterling says that since he put it there, response has been overwhelming. A photo of the sign was posted online and has gone viral, appearing on blogs, conservative Web sites and Twitter feeds.
"We've had more than 400 calls and e-mails," Sterling said, adding that only two callers thought the sign was in poor taste.
Conservatives and others have been critical of Obama's winning the award, saying he won it in his first year of office before he accomplished anything substantial. (In Oslo, Norway, Obama said he accepted the award as a call to action.)
In Rockwall County, Obama critics are easy to find.
The county is home to some of North Texas' most ardent Tea Party Patriots, and it was home to multiple Tea Party events the last several months. In the 2008 presidential election, Obama never had a chance here – Republican John McCain garnered nearly 73 percent of the Rockwall County vote.
At the auto center, manager Cliff Payne said he's taken calls from people in the military who said word of their sign has reached troops in Iraq.
"It was just a little local humor," Payne said. "We didn't think it would go any further."
Sterling insisted the sign was not meant to be partisan or political, it was just intended to get a laugh out of customers. Then folks came by just to snap pictures of it. That may be where the national attention got its start – the picture that's circulating on e-mails and the Web isn't one that Sterling or his employees took.Each customer who gets an oil change at Horizon Auto gets a blue sticker with a picture of the prize and this inscription: "Conferred for the effort and peaceful intention of getting the oil and filter changed."
Unlike the actual Nobel Prize, no money is involved.
On a recent day at the auto center, at 5335 Horizon Road in Rockwall, two young women in their 20s said they hadn't even noticed the sign outside.
"People over 35 notice it more than younger people," Payne said. "I think they understand it better."
Sterling said he was going to leave the message up for a week or two, then replace it."The next one is going to say: 'We sell brakes. Washington needs them,' " he said.