Beyond parody

Now we know why Colbert retired. There was no way he could ever adequately satirize reality.

This is an actual, genuine, real ad from America’s Liberty PAC, a pro-Rand Paul SuperPAC. I lost it with the opening scene of fire-breathing bald eagles, dubbed in with the screech of the red-tailed hawk, as is traditional…and then the explosions. Explosions everywhere.

Please, international readers, close your eyes and pretend American politics isn’t happening. We’re embarrassed enough.


  1. Freodin says

    Every time I think I get a grasp on the american political system, I see that I got it wrong.

    Perhaps you could explain for your international readers: what the hell is a “SuperPAC” and how is it related to exploding eagles?

  2. microraptor says

    I believe that will make far more sense in about a month or so when I can legally watch it while stoned in my state.

  3. says

    A PAC is a political action committee. A superPAC is a special case, enabled by the ghastly Citizens United Supreme Court decision, that allows an organization to spend freely in support of a candidate, as long as there is no coordination between the candidate and the superPAC. So this is kind of a loose cannon group that is actually prohibited by law from working directly with Rand Paul, and Rand Paul is not allowed to say a thing about how they should operate, but they get complete freedom to say any stupid shit they want.

  4. says

    I imagine this being concocted by a 29 year old inspired by the viral videos of the mid to late 2000’s. Powerthirst etc. Somehow I don’t think this will have nearly the same reach.

  5. says

    They certainly know their target audience: fans of tractor pulls and wrestling.

    Jackdaws may like bright shiny things, but that doesn’t mean they’re smart enough to understand their value or danger.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    Uh, so what, if anything, is scheduled for tomorrow – and how much beer and popcorn should I buy?

  7. AlexanderZ says

    They did get everyone to watch their ad. Sure, the ad is stupid, but their mission was accomplished.

  8. HidariMak says

    I’m a Canadian, and since I started following US politics, those “weird news” sites have gotten a lot less of my attention. This hobby has the added benefit of informing what toxins may be soon entering our own federal politics, since some lobbying groups don’t limit themselves to screwing over US rights and freedoms.

  9. David Marjanović says

    Maybe it’s supposed to be funny by way of being a half-hearted self-parody. :-/

    They did get everyone to watch their ad. Sure, the ad is stupid, but their mission was accomplished.

    They’ll find out if there’s such a thing as bad publicity. *leans back*

  10. grumpyoldfart says

    So how does it work? The clown running the LibertyPAC makes a video in ten minutes at no expense and sells it to LibertyPAC which then uploads it to You Tube. Sounds like a skim operation to me. Get a forensic bookkeeper to follow the flow of cash out of LibertyPAC into the organizers pocket. I’ll bet he did rather well out of it.

  11. unclefrogy says

    grumpyoldfart has got the right idea there.
    I would bet that it is very much the same in all the superpacs when that kind of money is being thrown around with out much serious accounting or oversight. No discernible product, no board of directors, just an ephemeral construct like this and the job is as nebulous as political influence it is just too sweet a pot waiting for the con-job
    uncle frogy

  12. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re superPACs:
    Colbert pointed out, when announcing his superPAC, that all the superPACs money can go wherever they want it to, including the candidate hisself (Colbert, in particulars). Could be, Colbert was just satirizing the superPAC concept and finagled a little extra in there, to be funny. However, it qualifies as an exemplar of Poe’s Law, so wachathink?
    I’ll just let this ad be another of my reasons to oppose the CitUnit ruling as *really*bad*.

  13. says

    OMG. I just Rickrolled myself for the third time today to get the sound of this “political ad” out of my brain.

  14. tbrandt says

    @8 Pierce Butler: the Senate plans to vote on an extension of Section 215 of the Patriot Act and/or the USA Freedom Act (Section 215-lite), and Rand Paul intends to filibuster both. Despite what this ad might make you think, he’s fighting for what most of us here would consider to be a noble cause. Rand Paul and civil libertarians vs. fearmongers and warmongers.

  15. carpenterman says

    No. No. Just no, no, NO. This is a joke. NO ONE could be so brainless as to take this seriously… they wouldn’t have survived childhood!

  16. Larry says

    Well, Rand may have his fire-breathing eagles and monster truck rallys but Ted Cruz has got his own xtian rap group. According to The Daily Kos, the rap group, “We Are Watchmen” has dedicated one of their tracks to Senator Cruz and, as you can imagine, it is really quite bad. That said, you can pick up their CD for $4.99 if you act quickly. They’re going fast! Heck, buy two. You may save somebody’s life.

  17. AlexanderZ says

    slithey tove #17

    Could be, Colbert was just satirizing the superPAC concept and finagled a little extra in there, to be funny.

    Not that much extra, Super PACs Are Cushy Jobs:

    This election cycle, 420 super PACs poured $104.4 million into operational expenses such as travel and salaries, FEC data show. Of those groups, 151 spent their money on overhead rather than on mailings or ads to promote candidates. One example: ChristinePAC, formed by former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, used up $469,425 on consulting, travel, marketing, and other administrative costs without spending anything to support or oppose 2012 candidates, according to the FEC data. Matt Moran, the super PAC’s director, says the spending reflects “the basic cost of doing business.”

  18. Holms says

    I would laugh, but these guys are vying for the control of the world’s largest military.

  19. robro says

    At 0:06 seconds to the lower left of the eagle, an explosive ball of flame starts billowing up. A second or so later a ball of fire comes out the eagles mouth. The two balls of fire meet briefly in the middle, then disappear. Now I’m going to lay awake tonight wondering if this is just terrible production values, or intended to mean something and I’m just too old and stupid to get it.

    About SuperPACs: I suppose an anti-SuperPAC would be possible…an organization dedicated to making a particularly noxious candidate look ridiculous. If so, wouldn’t their work look like this?

  20. says

    Incidentally, the guy who took some of the photos in the ad (like the super-buff Rand image) is Gage Skidmore:

    If you’ve spent much time scouring the Internet for news about the Republican presidential campaign, you’ve probably run across the work of Gage Skidmore.

    Skidmore’s high-quality photographs of Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and their compadres have appeared on hundreds if not thousands of sites, including those of The Atlantic, The World, Tech President, and MSNBC.

    It’s not just the quality of his work that has made Skidmore so popular. It’s that he posts all of his photos to Flickr under a Creative Commons license, making them available free of charge as long as he’s credited. The license he chose even allows for commercial use, although he has sometimes been paid for the use of his photos. I discovered him when searching for free photos for my own blog, Media Nation, and have used his pictures on a number of occasions.

    As it turns out, Skidmore is a 19-year-old student at Glendale Community College in Phoenix and a freelance graphic designer. A Ron Paul supporter, he began photographing politicians when he was living in Terre Haute, Indiana, attending events held by Rand Paul during his successful 2010 Senate run in Kentucky. Skidmore also showed up at stops on the presidential campaign trail in order to see Ron Paul and took photos of other prominent Republicans while he was there.

    Skidmore doesn’t know how many times his photos have been used. Some version of a Gage Skidmore photo credit appears over 1 million times online, and looking up his name on Google Blogsearch yields about 40,000 results. That makes him the political equivalent of David Shankbone, the nom de photo of a Wall Street lawyer whose free celebrity photos have appeared in venues such as The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. Skidmore told me his Flickr account has been viewed nearly 1.2 million times.

  21. Trebuchet says

    Wow Tony, you hadn’t seen the Demon Sheep ad before? Have you been hiding under a rock? What’s really hilarious is that it was aimed at one of her fellow Republicans.

  22. toska says

    Oh look, the Republicans are trying to get the youth vote again. They are parodying themselves in the hopes that teens and 20 somethings will find it funny and share with their friends. So sad to watch . . . like a fish flopping around on the beach.

  23. Rey Fox says

    I feel sorry for the poor bald eagle, which has had its image tarnished by the worst that American society has to offer for so long.

    And the red-tailed hawk, by accidental association.

  24. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    “red tailed hawk”
    uh uh, finally got the implication. as in, to be explicit: red = repub, hawk = warmonger

  25. F.O. says

    @klatu #13: yeah, the video reminded me of Idiocracy.

    And come on, isn’t it possible that the producers were perfectly aware of what they were ding and deliberately aiming at exactly this effect to make the ad more popular?
    As far as I can say they don’t even make bad points about Obama (but the explosions may have distracted me from some bad points, no I’m not watching it again just to be sure).

  26. says

    Trebuchet @30:

    Wow Tony, you hadn’t seen the Demon Sheep ad before? Have you been hiding under a rock? What’s really hilarious is that it was aimed at one of her fellow Republicans.

    Prior to 2010 when I started following FtB regularly, I had zero interest in politics. Even when I began to be interested, there was obviously a lot I was unaware of. So while I wouldn’t say I was living under a rock, yes, I was ignorant of the demon sheep ad. Sorry.

  27. sugarfrosted says

    @33 Dang sound editors, when will their reign of terror end?

    @31 It’s cute that they think they’re laughing with them, when they’re actually laughing at them.

    On a side note: I’m curious if Rand Paul is bank rolled by Ed Thiel nigh exclusively like his father.

  28. Marie the Bookwyrm says

    About 7 seconds in, when it shows the Rand Paul and Barack Obama heads moving toward each other, all I could think was: ‘Now kiss.’

  29. Reginald Selkirk says

    slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) #35: “red tailed hawk”
    uh uh, finally got the implication. as in, to be explicit: red = repub, hawk = warmonger

    You’re digging too deep. The video shows an image of a bald eagle, overlaid with the sound of a red-tailed hawk. Why? Because bald eagles sound really wimpy. Truth.

    The false combination is not unique to this video, it has been done many times before.
    Sounds of the red-tailed hawk
    Real sounds of the bald eagle

  30. microraptor says

    You know, there was even a Discovery Channel ad that dubbed in red-tailed hawk screeches over a bald eagle, even though the actual show had actual eagle noises.

    Also, I figured out what this video reminded me of: there was this lightgun arcade game called Target Terror: Gold. It had the same random explosions and pasted-onto-the-background enemies that would inexplicably flex before trying to kick the screen.

  31. sugarfrosted says

    @41 The redtail hawk for any hawk/eagle is a sound editing cliche. It’s absurdly common.

  32. numerobis says

    Trebuchet @30:

    Also, I’ve been glued to the news all my life and had missed the demon sheep. There’s a lot to keep track of in the world.

    Feigned surprise is a trait I exhibit and I am self-consciously trying to eliminate in myself. I hope the horde can smack me down whenever you see me doing it!

  33. says

    I’m skeptical.

    While the PAC is real (citation:, that YouTube channel was created only yesterday, and this is their only post. That’s not 100% proof, but come on — they had Ron Paul Photoshopped on a shirtless muscular body.

    This was pretty good though. Possibly professional. Last Week Tonight?

    Another more-likely-than-real possibility: The PAC is nothing but a pure profit machine for Paul and his friends, and they’ll claim these “incredible videos” cost them most of what got donated. The companies that made them? Owned by their friends.

    Man, I don’t believe anything any more.

  34. tbtabby says

    Do the makers of this ad think Rand Paul is going to run against Barack Obama?

  35. microraptor says

    “Thinking” appears to be a generous description of what they’re doing.

  36. Zimmerle says

    I’m… actually thinking this is self-parody?

    I can’t tell. I CAN’T TELL!

  37. Rich Woods says

    Thankfully I couldn’t make out half of the words, so I was saved from the full awfulness of it.

  38. loreo says


    Target: Terror! Yes!

    I’ve been convinced for a while that Target: Terror was the inspiration for the actual War on Terror

    Put a bunch of money in, march forward, blow a bunch of stuff up, repeat ad infinitum

  39. microraptor says

    I’d agree with you except that you’re penalized for shooting civilians in Target: Terror!

  40. frog says

    That red-tailed hawk scream is the Wilhelm scream for raptors.

    The only thing this ad got wrong (if viewed as a parody) is no mention of “funny cars.” That’s what all the Republican candidates are arriving in, right?

  41. spamamander, internet amphibian says

    I can walk outside and hear the red tail screech, the upland desert areas of WA are raptor heaven. I do have to feel terribly sorry for them being associated with.. er… this.

  42. PatrickG says

    @ Tony:

    So while I wouldn’t say I was living under a rock, yes, I was ignorant of the demon sheep ad. Sorry.

    Don’t be sorry! You’re one of today’s (well, yesterday’s) lucky ten thousand!

    On the minus side, you are now aware of the gold standard for jaw-dropping political ads. You too will now be prone to jaded comments like “Meh, it was ok, but it was no demon sheep”.

  43. says

    Actually, the bald headed eagle is really a good mascot for Republicans
    1. They sound ridiculous
    2. They mow down everything that’s in their way

    Also, they’re greedy scavengers, by preference — they’re very fond of garbage, and are often found dumpster diving.

    Spend some time on the North Coast of BC, and after a while you see bald eagles as slightly more photogenic seagulls.

  44. rietpluim says

    I’m so jealous of you Americans! Politics can be so boring in The Netherlands. I’d rather have videos like this than social security or accessible health care.

  45. anym says

    I can’t even tell if ‘america’s liberty pac’ is a real thing. I guess that’s Poe’s law in action.

    Their website seems a bit broken and unfinished. If I try to follow the ‘home’ link on the main page, it throws up a 404 error page with the very appropriate title, “This is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?”

  46. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    Hang on; that’s not a spoof? That’s a real advert?

    What the actual fuck?

  47. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    I can’t even work out what it’s advertising. I think it’s a political debate between Rand Paul and Barrack Obama on the benefits of email snooping, but… I may be completely wrong. I honestly have no idea.

  48. says

    I think the fact that the announcer says “Oh, no. It’s on fire” is a pretty clear indication that it’s meant to be goofy, although the Patriot Act debate was very real. And I have to admit, I chuckled a bit at the kids pushing the car around.

  49. says

    #60 rietpluim – Well, we do have a professional clown named Geert in the Tweede Kamer. And I read a year or so ago (maybe in Het Parool?) that we tap more of our citizen’s phone calls per capita here in The Netherlands than any other country…maybe we need some of this stuff as well.

  50. birgerjohansson says

    BTW The only Netherland connection I recall from North American television was in a Canadian comedy show named “The Kids In The Hall”.
    They featured a dutch TV program named “Feelyat”, which was interrupted for a news segment apparently featuring a hurricane flloding the coast, and a lot of hammerhead sharks closing in…

    Maybe the kids from “The Kids In The Hall” should take over all republican advertising in an attempt to raise the bar a bit?

    And having seen the karate/time travel spoof film sequence, I think any advert needs laser raptors. And Nazi robot eagles.

  51. Dark Jaguar says

    Brought to you by the people who don’t understand that Steven Colbert was parody.

  52. says

    To be honest, I found the ad rather amusing, almost as if there was a bit of self-awareness and self-parody there. On the other hand, I’m probably far too optimistic.