Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.

Sophomoric Joke? Amateurish Dirty Trick? No, Documentary Film!  | e-mail post

When I checked my feedback e-mail account on gmail, I had a message from "YesBushCan" suggesting that they had collected several fake documents that they need help invalidating. I was immediately a little skeptical. I actually figured the link would go to a porn site, but I figured I'd have a look just to see, as I'm always curious to see what the spammers are up to.

In any event, YesBushCan.com is a site that is presumably someone's idea of hi-lar-ious. The docs they include are of pretty much well-known, personal correspondence with Ken Lay of Enron, Bush's DUIs, the Bush daughters' alcohol posession charges. Whatever.

At this point, I was just curious to see the rest of the site. The site is not quite so funny to constitute satire, nor does it seem to be quite authentic-feeling enough to be taken seriously. It is a little odd that they state on their site that they are dedicated to re-electing Bush/Cheney. It's also linked to CheneyBush.com, which is another not-quite-real yet not-real-funny look-alike of the real Bush campaign site.

They also have a "Yes Bush Can" bus that they are taking around the country. It looks like they're pretty tongue in cheek when they have the Bus in Kerry states, including spending some time in the Castro soliciting signatures for their gay divorce petition, which I can imagine would be funny enough ("whereas a great many man-man and woman-woman couples come to understand eventually that their partnering is as unnatural as, say, an orange orangutan;") [PDF].

But I really had to wonder how they're behaving in swing states. They've got pictures on their tour from a few days in Ohio, including at the veep debate, where they were handing out some "pro" Cheney brochures [PDF]. They didn't have any other discussion of their activities in Ohio, although they have been there other times. They were just in Washington on Thursday, the only picture they show is with some police. No pics from their trip to Pittsburgh.

What I thought was strange, however, is that they had two pictures from Oregon where they are actually shaking hands with former Republican Governor Victor Atiyeh as well as posing with Jim Feldkamp, Republican challenger to Peter DeFazio. [Feldkamp campaign site] The photo is captioned "In Eugene, at the Ducks game, many appreciate Smokey and his message, including Congressional candidate Jim Feldkamp."[pic] They're planning to be in Florida on November 2, according to their site. I have no idea what to think at this point.

So I decide to sort out who these guys are. In the process of which I found someone else who got a different e-mail and did some checking of his own, he didn't actually get to the bottom of it, but the post is worth a read. The poster had been forwarded an e-mail purporting to be official Bush communication about environmental policy, which he tracked back to the same people. The e-mail was completely ridiculous if you know anything at all about Bush, but may have been credible to an ill-informed individual quickly skimming it and who might have preconceived notions of Bush being environmentally hostile, especially to the extent that the message claims endorsements of the so-called environmental policy from Feldkamp and Atiyeh, making use of the bus tour pictures mentioned above, to legitimize it. From the comment of the guy who forwarded it, "Spam from eager followers of the incumbents," clearly it seemed legit enough to at least one person. Just goes to show you that it's hard to underestimate the electorate.

Now, I'll save you the time of recounting my investigation, but it is all the work of the same guys who are out with the docu-comedy The Yes Men, in which they infilitrate a WTO meeting in Europe, actually end up presenting and getting coverage on CNBC Europe. I actually had read a capsule review of the film earlier this evening, and thought it sounded pretty good. It is truly an odd coincidence I should get an e-mail from them tonight. (Where's Rod Serling?) When I went to check the IMDB listing for it, I found I'm not the only one who wasn't too impressed by the quality of the humor if they were attempting satire, as the featured user review said:
'The Yes Men' is 'Punk'd' with a master's degree. A mediocre idea made into a decent film, 'Men' doesn't quite have the Teutonic-plate shifting power it suggests, nor the comedic value it assumes. Coming out in a hailstorm of political satires this year, 'Men' is far more entertaining than enlightening....the actual pranks Mike and Andy play have little resonance beyond their own giggly fascination with corporate buffoonery.
I don't think I'll cry if I miss it, but since I've been drawn into the comedy(?), maybe I should.

If you want to see more of the Yes Men and their current endeavors, go to theyesmen.org. They also have a weblog that gives a more behind-the-scenes look at what's really going on with the bus tour. If they come to Minneapolis, I'd love to see them, just to ask them what their real point is. I mean, they're not incredibly funny nor do puerile pranks further discourse in any meaningful way. On the other hand, there is a lot of comedy produced that is humorousless and a lot of current events programming that is intellectually vacuous, so I guess I can't be too harsh on them.

In all fairness to The Yes Men, however, they did at least get me to waste my time, and isn't that what the internet's all about?

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Saturday, October 16, 2004
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