Telemocracy # 2
"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." –Hunter S. Thompson, in Rolling Stone, 1974
Who knew that the home of a gigantic desert lake that is mercilessly full of salt could get even weirder? Utahn politics have begotten some truly magnificent works of campaign art this cycle – let's get right to it.
The Republican primary in Utah's state House District 59 has given us two excellent TV spots. Here, Mike Thompson lists the experiences that make him qualified for the Utah Legislature. And sitting atop that list? An internship in the U.S. Congress … no, I'm serious. Mike! Mike! He's our man! If he can't do it, maybe someone with an actual job can!
Thompson's opponent and victor in the primary, Val Peterson, produced what, if it were in a race of more renown, would warrant a fast track to canonization in the pantheon of best screen shots of all time. Socialism-fearing, very-still-sitting Val takes inspiration from the "OAKLAHOMA" legislature's lawsuit challenging Obamacare. There are two possibilities here: either the commercial cited the newspaper with the worst copyeditor in the known universe, or the campaign created a fake newspaper headline and Val doesn't value education as much as he says. I know this because I used to live in Oklahoma (and also because I can read).
Then there's the Patrick Henry Caucus, a conservative political force ostensibly sweeping state legislatures across the nation. God bless this Utah-born league of unextraordinary gentleman (and one lady who cryptically pops in near the end of the ad … Wha?). These vaguely nerdy white dudes are on a mission (presumably from God) to protect the tenth-amendment from federal assault. Among their astounding feats of superhuman power is the ability to assert two diametrically opposed positions in the space of something like 10 seconds: "We consider the bill of rights to be the absolute guarantor of our freedoms" vs. "We want the states to decide what's best for their citizens." Just do yourself a favor and watch the whole thing.
OK, this isn't really a campaign commercial, but it is a sword fight between Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee, the two viable candidates for Utah's Republican Senate primary (Lee ultimately won the nomination). For anyone who remembers the Dread Pirate Roberts, six fingers on the right hand, Inigo Montoya, or "As you wish," it is just lovely.
And for dessert, from completely outside of our coverage area, here is the greatest campaign commercial yet of 2010, maybe all time, because Alabama is even weirder than Utah.
Denver Nicks is a High Country News intern.