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REPUBLIC OF MOLOSSIA, Nevada — If you enter the Republic of Molossia in Dayton, Nevada, be prepared to put up with the whims of a finicky dictator.
"Spinach and onions are banned in Molossia because we just don't like them," said Kevin Baugh, who calls himself "His Excellency, President of the Independent Republic of Molossia."
His "nation," which is entirely surrounded by the state of Nevada, also bans walruses, light bulbs and imports of anything from Texas except recordings made by singer Kelly Clarkson.
At the Molossia customs office, "chief constable" Alexis Baugh, daughter of the president, will go through your luggage and handbags, looking for contraband. If you're clean, you're allowed entry and His Excellency will stamp your passport, just as they do in all the other countries around the globe.
Baugh, who greets visitors in a "banana republic" dictator outfit complete with sash and epaulettes, has been ruling the roost in Molossia for 35 years. However, elections are not part of the deal.
"I overthrew myself a few years ago," Baugh said. "You know, every now and again, you got to keep it interesting."
Call Molossia a country, call it a delusion, call it a gag, but Baugh's "First Family" has been playing along for years. They live in a standard suburban-style home that Baugh calls "Government House."
President Baugh's vast domain is about an acre, surrounded by Nevada. It's in Dayton, a few miles east of Carson City.
"The United States ends at the end of our driveway," Buagh said, "and Molossia starts there."
The United States ends at the end of our driveway, and Molossia starts there.
–Kevin Baugh, President of "Molossia"
His Excellency once visited London. Baugh proudly displays a photo of himself posing with the British royal family. A state secret in Molossia is that the photo was actually taken at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum with incredibly stiff stand-ins for Queen Elizabeth, Kate Middleton and the rest of the royals.
Molossia has a bank, a store, a post office.
It issues its own stamps. And there's a flag, of course, with Molossia's national colors, green, white and blue.
Politically, Molossia is a Tea Party dream. There's no national debt and no taxes. Of course, His Excellency does make payments to Nevada and the United States. However, he says that's not taxes, it's foreign aid.
"It kind of helps them a little bit," Baugh said. "You've seen their roads! It's terrible! They need all the help they can get, those poor people."
Molossia has its own transportation system. It's a model train, suitably scaled for such a tiny nation. As dictator, Baugh gets credit for making the trains run on time.
His principle foreign policy concern is East Germany. Molossia declared war on the defunct country decades ago.
We have a good time with it. But we also take it very, very seriously. We work very hard at making our country as real a place as we possibly can in a very small package.
"It's quiet," Baugh said, "All quiet on all fronts, which, there really aren't any fronts."
Most historians thought East Germany vanished with the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, according to Baugh, a remnant of East Germany still exists on an uninhabited island off the coast of Cuba. Peace talks seem out of the question because there's no one left to speak for East Germany.
"And so the war will pretty much go on forever," Baugh said, "because there's no one to fight."
A few dozen tourists arrive in Molossia each year, lured there by His Excellency's presence on the internet. President Baugh personally leads tours of the entire nation which, incredibly, stretch out to an hour or so.
Pointing to one of Moslossia's finest tourist attractions, Baugh said "This is our banana tree, because we are a banana republic."
Border defenses are minimal; a wire fence seperates Molossia from his neighbor's back yard. But illegal immigration has never been much of a problem.
"Because we are so small, the borders are pretty much visible at any given time, " Baugh said. "It's pretty hard to sneak into our country."
Molossia's economy is small, but souvenir sales do bring in a little money. That suggests another interpretation of the tongue-in-cheek country; perhaps Molossia is neither a delusion nor a gag but an actual business, albeit a very small one.
"We have a good time with it," Baugh said. "But we also take it very, very seriously. We work very hard at making our country as real a place as we possibly can in a very small package."
So far, national security whistleblower Edward Snowden has not requested asylum in Molossia.