Bring Ohio Back

Using Humor Against McCain

Politics is more popular than ever on comedy shows these days. So why not bring comedy to politics?

A new ad series by an Ohio 527 organization tries using the funny bone to clobber McCain on the economy, health care and Social Security. The first ad, which debuted in Ohio during Saturday Night Live, mocks McCain's comments that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." A guy in a bar jokes, "So what Sen. McCain is saying is that, 'The recession is not real.'...Guess what? This beer gut - not real!" (The beer gut is real.) Then there's the obligatory unibrow joke, because every attack ad needs one. McCain, by the way, has said he was referring to American workers as the strong fundamentals.

The ad comes from Bring Ohio Back, a group last seen during the 2004 election blasting President Bush with TV ads and hosting get-out-the-vote celebrity bus tours staring Hilary Swank, Steve Buscemi, Robert Redford and Paul Newman.

The new ad series is suppossed to represent "a sitcom in 30 seconds," said co-founder Jeff Rusnak, a consultant who worked on Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown's 2006 campaign. "The airwaves are so crowded...we wanted something to penetrate and get people's attention."

The series features two guys (Dave and Joe) drinking at a bar and riffing on McCain. They end with one of the guys asking the camera, "What's wrong with John McCain?" Watch them on the group's Web site, and laugh, or not?

Now for the group's leadership and funding...

Bring Ohio Back's latest effort started with some public opinion research earlier this year, funded by Rachel Pritzker Hunter, who gave $102,000. The Pritzkers are heirs to the Hyatt fortune, and are big players in Democratic politics. Rachel's mother, psychotherapist and invester Linda Pritzker, has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to liberal 527s over the years. Another Pritzker — Penny — is Barack Obama's national finance chair. Penny's brother was national co-chair of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Rusnak and consuntant Gerald Austin founded Bring Ohio Back in 2004. The two have worked together for decades — Austin managed Rev. Jesse Jackson's 1988 presidential campaign and Rusnak was his assistant. Rusnak also worked for presidential candidates Michael Dukakis and Wesley Clark.

So, the question for this ad: Funny, or not funny? You tell us.

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