Category Archives: Political Satire

Secretary of State: The Perfect Gig to Build Up Your Ego Wall

Is it time to commission another Ego Study of the U.S. Senate? Our clipboards are ready.

Is it time to commission another Ego Study of the U.S. Senate? Our clipboards are ready.

Congratulations on your new State Department gig, Senator Kerry. Can’t wait to see your new office…

So right before the 2010 midterm elections, photographer Ilya Mirman and I embarked on an unprecedented visual data analysis project attempting to rank political egos in the U.S. Senate. The Vanity Index algorithm was based on how many times a Senator displayed a picture of him or herself on their wall and how many celebrities were in those pictures — offset by how many times the Senators promoted their home states.

It wasn’t even close. U.S. Sen. John Kerry, the keynote speaker at my University of Massachusetts graduation (oh, and the 2004 Democratic nominee for President), ran away with the contest as you can see below.

There's still some white space on Sen. John Kerry's office wall -- still some future photo-ops to brag about.

There’s still some white space on Sen. John Kerry’s office wall — still some future photo-ops to brag about.

He was the Mr. Incredible of the U.S. Senate, a title that his spokesperson shrewdly embraced. And now that he’ll be meeting world leaders 2-3 times a week, he’s gonna need A LOT MORE wall space.

Mr. Incredible: The Original John Kerry. (Double click for more details).

Mr. Incredible: The Original John Kerry. (Double click for more details).

So check out the original Vanity Index — and let Ilya and me know if you’d like an Ego Study conducted at your company or organization.

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Filed under Election 2010, Political Satire, politics, Vanity Index

Who is America’s Worst PEZident?

Even if you know WHO this president is, odds are you have no idea WHAT he accomplished. The historians say very iittle.

Even if you know WHO this president is, odds are that you have no idea WHAT he accomplished. According to most historians, not much.

Quick: Name the U.S. president immortalized in plastic above.

Baffled?  Of course you are.

Being turned into a PEZ dispenser may be the greatest thing that ever happened to this 1800s-era Commander-in-Chief.

I explore why with Brady Carlson at NHPR’s “All Things Considered” and in the upcoming February issue of New Hampshire Magazine. Brady deftly steered the conversation where all meaningful conversations ultimately go: To the 1970s Saturday Morning classic cartoon, “The Super Friends.”

And that may tap me out for comprehensive coverage of Presidential PEZ. If you’re as smitten by the topic as I am, check out the candy company’s plans to conquer elementary school minds (The Atlantic), and why Barack Obama will have to wait for his moment of sugarcoated glory (The Hill).

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Filed under PEZ, Political Satire, politics

Revisiting the Funniest Presidential Candidate Ever (Digitally Remastered Version)

As radical funnyman Vermin Supreme is experiencing an unprecedented surge in political media coverage and popularity, I think it is vital to remind America that I (kind of) discovered him first.

With that in mind, filmmaker Greg Constantine and I have released a new digital remastered version of “King of the Rats: On the Campaign Trail with Vermin Supreme,” which was a finalist in CNN’s iReport Film Festival.

  • SEE Vermin get pushed around by Mayor Rudy Guiliani’s bodyguards! (Vermin calls them “goons.”)
  • LISTEN to Vermin boldly predict the John Edwards sex scandal, daring him to come out of his campaign bus with “his hands up and his pants down.”  Also hear him warn about America’s lack of zombie preparedness and embrace Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) as his vice presidential running mate.
  • WATCH Vermin dance with his plate of prime rib at John McCain headquarters and covertly sneak into a Barack Obama victory party!

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Filed under Election 2008, Election 2012, Political Satire

Coming to a Birthday Party Near You — Obama vs. Romney

Hallmark’s first Mitt Romney-themed birthday card. The punchline: “Trust me. I know what a million bucks looks like.”

My latest cover story for The Hill’s “Capital Living” section explores an unexamined but critical factor in the 2012 Presidential Election: How will political birthday cards impact voter behavior at the ballot box?  Click on the image below to read the full story:

(Click to read full story)

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Filed under Election 2012, Journalism: The Hll, Political Satire, politics

Rock’em Sock’em Robots — Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney Edition

POLITICAL SLUGFEST: Forget about the ballot box. We can now settle the 2012 presidential election like men!

No one leaves the political ring without a black eye, right?

Toymaker and political rabblerouser Emil Vicale, founder of Herobuilders, just released a 2012 Presidential Election version of Rock’em Sock’em Robots — that classic 1960s mechanical boxing game that will make your thumbs more sore than any video game joystick.

Vicale is selling just the Mitt Romney and Barack Obama robot heads (with surgery instructions for decapitating the old heads and reattaching the new ones) for $39.95 — or the entire assembled set for $99.

BUT WAIT, doesn’t Mattel own the rights to Rock’em Sock’em Robots?  Absolutely.

Vicale maintains that anyone has the right to buy an existing product, customize it and then sell it on the secondary market. For example, you could buy a brand new Camaro, trick out the suspension, add funky hubcaps and paint the whole thing hot pink and resell it as a Hot Pink Camaro.

Herobuilders had an ugly battle with the PEZ Company a few years back over the same issue when they put their original Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani heads on top of regular PEZ dispensers. PEZ lawyers (candy does NOT come out of their necks) aggressively went after Vicale and he created his own dispenser device called  “Head Candy.”

The PEZ rivals, which actually are loaded with Sprees or Mentos, come with muscular male or buxom female body attachments (superhero and corporate themes).

But back to the boxing “Romneybots” and “Obamabots.”

A new way to teach kids about the reality of politics? The Herobuilders kit to modify your existing Rock’em Sock’em Robots retails for $39.95.

In an exclusive interview with The Hill (modest confession: I was first to break the Obamabot story), Vicale reveals that he is NOT parodying the Washington pundits’ universal characterization of Romney as a robot. He had been planning a McCain-Obama Rock’em Sock’em set in 2008, but his idea came too late in the election season to market it.

The Hill story also shares some fascinating behind-the-scenes debates over toy design:

“Both the Romneybot and Obamabot heads are portrayed in their natural skin tones and not the corresponding Republican red and Democratic blue. Vicale said the prototype heads looked too creepy in primary colors, making Romney seem like the Devil and Obama an alien from the movie ‘Avatar.’”

FATHER-DAUGHTER BONDING: Nothing promotes family togetherness like old-fashioned political mudslinging (or fisticuffs). Toymaker Emil Vicale enjoys his Obama and Romney robots with his 8-year-old girl.

If you’re a fan of political novelty toys and souvenirs, then Vicale is no stranger. He’s also the brainchild behind the Mitt Romney Etch a Sketch doll, the Newt Gingrich action figure (everyone wants one!) and a Barbie-like incarnation of U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).

Not too early to start your Christmas shopping!

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Filed under Election 2012, Guys Who Play With Dolls, Political Satire, Politically Incorrect Products, politics, Tacky Souvenirs, The Hill, White Collar Boxing

Suck It, Super Tuesday!

Post-Primary Jealousy: Click the picture to learn more about this depressing condition. (Cartoon by Brad Fitzpatrick/NH Magazine)

Truth be known, my bedroom doesn’t look ANYTHING like this. My wife Stacy keeps my political sign and bumper sticker collection confined to my office and the basement.

But there are kernels of truth embedded in “Primary Envy: Who Needs Super Tuesday?,” my latest humor column for New Hampshire Magazine. Why should the other 49 states have the right to vote? Can’t the candidates come back to Manchester, Nashua and Concord one more time for a rematch?

P.S. I know that voters are pumped in Ohio and Georgia, but does anyone care about the results of the Massachusetts Primary right now?

P.P.S.  My wife and I are also the only people in our social circles who don’t have a TV in our bedroom and don’t own a flat screen TV at all.  Sticking with the Cathode Ray Tube, baby!

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Filed under Election 2012, Last Laugh, Political Satire, politics

Mitt Flintstone: Does the next Commander-in-Chief need to know about cartoons?

With the world watching, Mitt Romney makes eye contact with Dino.

Mitt Romney holds Dino like he's doing a laundry detergent commercial.

Mitt Romney boldly looks off into the distance, giving Dino hope about the future.

Mitt Romney can’t catch a break.

New York Magazine mocks him for never having a hair out of place, recently kicking it up a notch with “The Many Hair Styles of Mitt Romney” slideshow (they all look the same to me, no Hillary Clinton headbands in the mix).

TIME Magazine just came out with its future Mitt Romney Presidential Library contribution: the WHY DON’T THEY LIKE ME? cover.

And “Cheerleader Mitt,” an innocuous YouTube clip I just posted of Mitt leading a cheer about himself, has attracted some hostile commentary only seconds after going live.

I’m not ready to bestow the coveted “Culture Schlock” endorsement on any candidates yet, but I don’t understand the intensity of the “Anyone But Mitt” movement.  He is one of the few Republicans running in the New Hampshire Primary who is NOT a nutcake. And at a recent campaign stop outside a local diner, I found Romney to be extremely likeable.

He was handing out free BLT sandwiches and posing for pictures with voters, basking in the afterglow of U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte‘s endorsement.  I don’t eat BLTs and can’t easily be bribed (it takes at least a lamb skewer to get my vote). On a lark, I stuck a stuffed animal in Romney’s face and asked him to pose. In a deep over-the-top newscaster voice, I said: “Governor, how about a picture of you and Dino Flintstone?”

He paused quizzically and then just rolled with it. “Ah, the Flintstones…” he sighed as if he were reminiscing about an old girlfriend. “I remember watching the very first episode!”  As you can see from the photos above (taken on regular shutter speed, not the sports setting), Romney lingered a bit with Dino and seemed to enjoy the moment.  Surely, it was a heckuva lot more preferable than answering another question on ObamaCare or RomneyCare.

My friend Ilya asked him a tough question about Guns N’ Roses.  And to Romney’s credit, he didn’t pull a Hillary Clinton “Number One Yankees Fan” moment. He admitted he wasn’t that familiar with the music and offered Ilya a BLT sandwich as a consolation prize.  Had he picked a random song like “Welcome to the Jungle,” just to have an answer, it would have been pandering and just plain embarrassing.

I learned this the hard way.

In Sixth Grade, I used to doodle the AC/DC and Led Zeppelin logos on my notebooks and grocery bag book covers because I thought it would look cool. If I could go back into time and change one thing in my life, it would be that. My friends would have still respected me if I had scribbled Steely Dan and Foreigner. And if they didn’t, that would have been an invaluable life lesson.

But back to Romney.  Do I think people should vote for him because he’s now trying extra hard to be fun and bantery on the campaign trail?

Of course not. But if I were putting in grueling 14-18 hour days shaking hands with sweaty strangers, I think having a sense of humor about it would keep me sane.

Besides, I kinda want a Commander-in-Chief who has seen every Flintstones episode.

AND IN OTHER FLINTSTONES NEWS…

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Filed under Election 2012, Flintstones, Political Satire