Miller: Making money and jokes with ‘superPACs’
BY RICH MILLER firstname.lastname@example.org October 28, 2012 4:26PM
Updated: October 29, 2012 8:17AM
According to the Sunlight Foundation, independent expenditures on federal campaigns by so-called “superPACs” and others have just about reached the half-billion dollars mark. Yes, that’s billion with a “b.”
About three-quarters of that money has been spent on negative attack ads. And about $14 million of that has been spent in just three Chicago-area congressional races. So now you know why you’ve been so inundated.
Some people look at all this moolah and shake their heads and worry about its impact on our democracy.
Others see the cash and want in.
Two buddies of mine are thinking about starting their own superPACs.
They’re no fools. The standard fee for “placing” a TV ad is 15 percent. Place a few million bucks and you don’t have to work for a while. All you gotta do is find a few angry people who have more money than they know what to do with and help them direct their rage.
Chicago’s Schadenfreude comedy group has caught on to this new gold rush. It’s running a series,” Poor Judgement,” on YouTube about the fictional “Integrity Independent Film Co.” The liberal company is dead broke and desperate for work. During Episode 1, they debate whether to sell their souls and make ads for superPACs.
“One word. Sometimes two. SuperPACs,” says “Justin,” who in real life is WBEZ-FM (91.5) radio executive producer Justin Kaufmann.
“Oh, like the Lunchables,” says his partner “Jim,” who is Jim Bennett, a recent winner of the Grand Slam for The Moth storytelling competition.
“Not the Lunchables!” Justin says. “The thing where the trillionaires give politicians a ton of cash for campaigns and issues. They have a film company that shoots the ad. It’s the film company that shoots the ad.”
“Yeah, but what if we don’t agree with what they stand for?” says “Kate,” played by Kate James of Second City and Schadenfreude.
“F--- ideals!” rages Justin. “Why do you care what anybody thinks?”
“Because what brought us together was integrity,” says Jim.
“What brought us together was ‘My Own Private Idaho.’ We all liked that movie,” Justin cracks.
“C’mon, Jim, don’t you want to make bank?” he demands. Justin eventually wins out.
In Episode 2, they change their company’s name to “N.Tegrity Political Films” and take a meeting with some wealthy right-wingers who run the “Committee for a More Beautiful America.”
After some false starts, Justin makes their pitch. “Colonial times. Ship off in the distance. And it docks. And all these people get off the ship. It’s the beginning of the country. It’s the beginning of hope.”
One of the superPAC’s leaders interrupts. “And the people getting off the Mayflower have some sort of tongue disease and syphillis and smallpox because of ObamaCare in 2012, right? I like it. Yes to that.”
The superPAC guys eventually give the N.Tegrity folks their own idea for a TV ad. It features a baby in its crib. “It’s 3 a.m.,” says the announcer, “and while you sleep, your infant daughter stirs as she realizes that the following groups will either try to kill her or tax her to death: Mexicans, the gays, solar power advocates, Latinos, liberals, fact checkers, Chicagoans, youth, near-sighted independents,” and on and on.
Episode 3 involves a meeting with two potential clients, the Council on American Marriage and the American Council for Marriage. One is anti-gay, and the other is pro-gay. But the hapless film company folks don’t know who is who and which is which and hilarity ensues.
I hope my buddies don’t have these problems. Selling one’s soul and destroying the country shouldn’t be so difficult.
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.