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OpinionColumnistsMichael Dobie

Everything you learned about the U.S. from watching the DNC

American Samoa declared that "more of its sons

American Samoa declared that "more of its sons and daughters" served in the U.S. armed forces per capita than any other state. Above, American Samoa delegate Marcus Langkilde holds up a sign during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 25, 2016. Credit: AP Images / Matt Rourke

The roll call at any national political convention is part-pageantry, part-vote tabulation, and part-proud-and-free advertising for each state and territory as it casts its presidential votes. You listen, you learn, you wonder. Here are some highlights from the Tuesday roll call that formally nominated Hillary Clinton for president:
Proudest military boast – American Samoa, which declared that “more of its sons and daughters” served in the U.S. armed forces per capita than any other state.
Best Native American boast – In a spirited competition of states proudly recognizing their Native Americans, Alaska was the runaway winner by noting it has 229 federally recognized tribes.
Age-spectrum winners – Jerry Emmett, the beloved 102-year-old honorary chairwoman of Arizona’s delegation,  and 17-year-old Rachel Gonzalez of Missouri, both of whom cast their delegation’s Clinton votes. That’s an 85-year span, or just a little longer than some people feel the Clintons has been on the national scene.
Best food boast – Connecticut and Wisconsin, in a tie. The Nutmeg State touted itself as the home of pizza and the hamburger, while America’s Dairyland lauded its cheese, brauts and beer. Put them together and you’ve got the college kid diet.
Best women’s boast – Predictably, the toughest competition of the night, with entrants claiming such achievements as first state to send a woman to Congress (Montana), the state with the greatest record of electing women leaders (New Hampshire), the first state to guarantee women the right to vote (Wyoming), and the birthplace of women’s rights (New York). But the winner was the nation’s first primary state, Iowa, which pronounced itself “a state of female firsts,” including being the first state whose state university accepted women into a degree program (1857) and the first state to have a woman pass the bar and become an attorney (1869).
Most emotional vote – A runaway. That would be Larry Sanders, from the Americans Abroad group, who invoked the pride his parents would have felt if they were alive and cried as he announced his vote for his brother, Bernie Sanders.
Best distance boast – Guam, which noted its delegation had traveled 8,000 miles across nine time zones to participate. But they got there more quickly than anyone driving to Philly on I-95.
Best Trump dis – Indiana, which before casting its votes said, “On this episode of The Apprentice … Mike Pence and Donald Trump, you are officially fired.”
Best use of metaphor – Nevada, which lauded “a spirit as wild and free as our mustangs.” What else would you expect from a state whose largest city, Las Vegas, is itself a metaphor.
Best name-check – Hmm, that’s a tough one, but in a purely provincial call, let’s give it to Puerto Rico, which thanked New York and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for “their help and assistance” in the commonwealth’s financial crisis.
Best historical boast – There were no Vegas or London odds on this one. Virginia, which rightly laid claim to being “home to so many founding fathers and mothers” and the place “where it all began in 1607 in Jamestown.”
Boast most difficult to prove – Could be Utah, which claimed to be the No.1 state for volunteerism. Or Rhode Island, which said it was one of the smallest states with some of the biggest hearts and best restaurants. But we’ll go with West Virginia, which called itself the “home of the most compassionate people in the world when disaster strikes.” In this country, there’s a lot of contenders.