*A billboard in Grand Junction, Colorado depicting President Barack Obama as an Islamist suicide bomber, a homosexual, an illegal alien and a mobster – all under the slogan “Vote DemocRAT” – has set off a firestorm of criticism just weeks ahead of a crucial election. [See photo above and news clip below.]

“It’s beyond distasteful, and it’s disrespectful of the commander-in-chief,” said Martelle Daniels, chairwoman of the local Mesa County Democrats, calling it “clearly racist and homophobic.”

“Certainly (it) is not designed for intelligent discourse at all,” she added.

Beneath the cartoonish figures of Obama are rats, labeled as trial lawyers, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Reserve bank.

The drawing is the work of artist Paul Snover, who frequently posts on constitutionalist and Tea Party websites, according to AFP. Snover told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel in an e-mail that he is “not allowed to say” who paid for the billboard.

Dennis Lucas, a Grand Junction businessman who owns the billboard, said, “I cannot tell you who it’s rented to,” and hung up when contacted via phone by an AFP reporter.

Chuck Pabst, the local Republican Party chairman, told the local paper the Grand Junction Sentinel that the billboard is in bad taste.

“It’s reprehensible and disrespectful, and that’s not what any honorable person would put forth,” Pabst said. “To ridicule somebody in this manner is juvenile.”

Politically, Mesa County is Republican-dominated and increasingly conservative, with several active Tea Party organizations — which are making waves ahead of mid-term elections next month.

Doris Downey, the owner of a company whose parking lot is being clogged by people taking a closer look, is angry that her business is being disrupted.

“I have no problem with freedom of speech, but I do have a problem with causing problems for others, and this is causing problems for us on top of all this,” she said.

“I don’t know who commissioned that thing, which I think is despicable, but they should own up to it,” Downey said. “Anonymous opinion gets no respect from me.”