The billboard owned by a former city commissioner is getting its share of yuck-yucks and backslaps, but it's childish and immature and only adds to the division in the country.

Well, that was an interesting 24 hours in the life of an unfortunate billboard -- here today, gone tomorrow. Sometime Wednesday, some common sense broke loose.

Perched west of Amarillo on I-40 near Vega, this billboard heard around the country did what the anonymous owner intended. It's got a lot of "attaboys" and yuck-yucks and backslaps. In no time, it went viral, and I do mean went viral.

But more than that, it's earned a lot of "likes" and supportive comments on Facebook, and in this day and age, can anything possibly be more important than that?

Surely, you've heard of the billboard thousands of travelers saw for at least a day-and-a-half as they drove west along I-40: "LIBERALS: Please continue on I-40 until you have left our Great State of Texas."

But it was a mixed bag of online reaction, too. When this stupid sign took off, so did reaction from the other side. Poor old Vega, an innocent interstate bystander, was being raked over the coals.

Randy Burkett, the former city council member who owns the billboard company on which the sign appeared, said Wednesday the sign was coming down immediately and he would reimburse the anonymous donor who purchased the advertisement.

"I believe in free speech," Burkett told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "but this country is divided enough as it is."

On the one hand, I'm reminded a little bit of Shakespeare, whose political leanings remain a mystery. He wrote in "Macbeth,"...full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." In a way, there's nothing to see here.  With the billboard strategically placed, potential consumers of gas, meals and hotels had already left Amarillo for points west.

On the other hand...

"Obviously, a lot of people may feel that way, especially in the Panhandle, which is a conservative area, but that billboard is unfortunate," said Dan Quandt, Vice-President of the Amarillo Convention and Visitors Council on Wednesday morning. "Our job is to welcome all people. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but we're already receiving emails that we always stop in Amarillo when we come through, but we're not stopping now.

"It's hard to see anything positive with this. I don't know if it's a placeholder until someone buys the billboard space. Maybe I should buy the darn thing. Outside of a few enjoying a laugh, it's not what we want. It's not helping anyone."

Indeed, local defenders of the billboard were saying Tuesday night to relax, snowflake, it's just a joke. Lighten up. Free speech and God Bless America. Of course, they are the same ones who become apoplectic when there's any criticism toward President Trump and the right. It's all a loss-of-civility cycle.

Really, the billboard was embarrassing or at least cringe-worthy even with its short shelf life. I'd feel the same way if a billboard near Groom read, "Shame on all those who voted for Donald Trump."

Since Abraham Lincoln was elected as a Republican more than 150 years ago, there have been Republicans and Democrats, a right and left, a conservative and liberal bent. It's part of the balancing act in this country.

There's always been sharp differences between the two sides, of course, but for the longest time, there was at least some grudging respect for the other side, an almost quiet acknowledgement that one side didn't have all the answers. Compromise was not seen as a weakness. But that's a time for the history books.

Neither side in this country owns the  moral or ethical high ground. If you think your side does, you're not paying attention.

Any frame of reference will work. Within  the last month, conservative TV actress Roseanne Barr blamed Ambien for a stunningly racist tweet of Valerie Jarrett, a black woman and former advisor to Barack Obama. That was followed by some crude and profane televised comments against Trump by actor Robert De Niro at the Tony Awards and against daughter Ivanka Trump by whatever Samantha Bee is on her television show.

All of it has been long fueled by your cable news network of choice, the-other-side-is-evil talk show of choice, and a keyboard and Facebook page that anyone can spend hours throwing videos and memes and rants on  to convince the world just how right they are and wrong everyone else is.

The result is an uncivil civil war of culture. In the Panhandle, the broad message of this billboard was, joke or not, if you don't think exactly like "we" do, go far far away.

A few months ago, I described myself as part of a growing group of "embarrassed conservatives." I've voted mostly conservative, but there have been a few times, depending on the race, candidates and issues, I've voted the other way. I don't want to pigeon-hole myself to one side.

And I want people of opposite views around if you can get past the name-calling and shouting. It's healthy. I want to read and talk with respected viewpoints from both sides.

First, it's called maturity. Second, I might actually learn something. Maybe it sharpens or reinforces my own opinion, or forces me to articulate it better or differently. Maybe it softens my opinion to look at issues less rigidly. Maybe I come to understand not all issues are black and white, and an open mind is not a bad thing.

Really, there are few things that feel better than two friends who politically agree to disagree, respect the other, but rise above politics to remain friends. These days, they're like Bigfoot -- rumored, but seldom seen.

By 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Quandt was reading an email from a national association in Kentucky, asking if this is really the way all of  Amarillo feels. As someone who attempts to lure conventions and visitors to the city, he was busy hitting the reply button all morning.

Actually, he did more than that. As he broached the idea Wednesday morning, he did "buy the darn thing." That ought to put him in the early running for the Nobel Peace Prize. I think though  he'd just settle for getting a childish message out of the Panhandle.

Jon Mark Beilue is an AGN Media columnist. He can be reached at jbeilue@amarillo.com or 806-345-3318. Twitter: @jonmarkbeilue.