KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Darvin Muchow wants the world to know that he did not approve the single-word billboard message that graces his middle-of-Kansas wheat field along Interstate 70. "IMPEACH," the sign reads in huge blue and red letters. It's almost impossible to miss.
Muchow leases the billboard space to a national advertising firm.
"I couldn't believe it," the 74-year-old Republican groused. "I'm not happy about it. I'm not happy at all."
The sign does not say who should be impeached. But to Muchow, it's pretty obvious - President Bush.
The "I-word" has had a resurgence. Last Tuesday, 130 of the 317 e-mails sent to the office of U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat, centered on impeachment - all of them in favor.
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers dropped the word last Sunday on national TV, speaking about the investigation into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys. Conyers said he was hoping for more White House cooperation, and that just might happen "as the cries for the removal of both Cheney and Bush" grow.
A fresh survey by the American Research Group found that 45 percent of respondents said they supported launching impeachment proceedings against Bush while 46 percent said they opposed such a move.
A majority of respondents, 55 percent, said they wanted Vice President Dick Cheney out; 40 percent said they did not.
The White House had no comment on the poll, which was taken immediately after Bush commuted former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison sentence in the CIA leak case.
Yet those in the know say that impeachment is as unlikely as snow this month on Muchow's scorched fields.
"I don't think there's a chance in the world," said Rep. Dennis Moore, a Kansas Democrat.
"It isn't going to happen," agreed Rep. Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican.
"Not a feasible option," said University of Wisconsin political scientist Kenneth Mayer.
Set aside the difficulty of getting the votes to go after the second president in a row, Cleaver said. "If we pursue impeachment, we can forget any other Democratic agenda item for the next two years."
As the nation heads into a presidential election year, Democrats would prefer a divided GOP to a unified one.
"Almost the only thing that could unify Republicans right now would be an attempt to impeach," said Burdett Loomis, a University of Kansas political scientist. "The GOP is starting to come apart on Iraq, starting to come apart on No Child Left Behind, obviously on immigration. From a partisan point of view, why would you want to give them a real incentive to come together?"
Throw in that a successful effort to impeach Bush would mean that the even more unpopular Cheney becomes president, and more steam leaves the impeachment engine.
So far, the House - where any impeachment proceeding would begin - has shown little interest. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said repeatedly that impeachment is off the table. Even liberal members of Congress are wary.
"I have not seen the high crimes and misdemeanors, which is what the Constitution calls for," said Cleaver, though he hesitated when asked about impeaching Cheney.
"You're really testing me now," he said.
There is an impeachment resolution aimed at Cheney sponsored by Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio congressman and Democratic presidential candidate.
About which, Jay Leno could not resist: "First of all, how many heart attacks has Cheney had? Five? Six?" the comedian recently joked. "Want to get rid of this guy? Buy him a cheeseburger."
For several liberal groups, it is not a joke. Full-page ads have run in The New York Times saying an endangered world cannot wait until January 2009, when Bush leaves office.
One group, After Downing Street, uses its Web site to cite a long list of grievances. Among them: the conduct of the war in Iraq, the authorization of prisoner torture, the detaining of Americans without due process, the wiretapping of phone calls, the unmasking of former CIA officer Valerie Plame and "gross negligence" in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
"I want to see them tried in criminal court and convicted and put behind bars," After Downing Street co-founder David Swanson said of Bush and Cheney.
A fresh outrage has been fueled by the nixing of Cheney chief-of-staff Libby's 2 ½ -year sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice.
Bush's approval rating sank to a new low of 29 percent in the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll. And an American Research Group poll showed that 64 percent of respondents said they disliked Libby's commutation.
All that emboldens critics, such as Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who said last week that impeachment should be on the table. Bill Moyers focused on the topic last week on his PBS show.
On the program, John Nichols, a Washington correspondent for The Nation and the author of "The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism," talked about the "lawless" nature of the Bush administration, which he said believes "it can rewrite the rules for itself, that it can protect itself.
"On January 20th, 2009, if George Bush and Dick Cheney are not appropriately held to account, this administration will hand off a toolbox with more powers than any president has ever had, more powers than the founders could have imagined," Nichols said. "The only way we take tools out of that box is if we sanction George Bush and Dick Cheney now and say the next president cannot govern as these men have."
But Moore said he was disinclined to pursue impeachment now because major disagreements with the president should not automatically translate to impeachment. "We can have substantial differences with the administration," he said. "Symbolic gestures really don't do much for me."
"Impeach" billboards don't do much for Muchow, either. He has issues with Bush, but he is still mad about the sign.
"Enough that I might take a chain saw and cut it down."