Stephen Colbert’s super PAC skewers election ads with parodies

The super PAC affiliated with Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert, “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow,” has produced four ads in the past week specifically targeting South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary on Jan. 21 — and at least three of the ads are narrated by prominent actors.

Before we delve into the ads — and to establish the relevance of what Colbert is doing — first consider this graphic from Google’s Politics & Elections Blog, showing web search data for South Carolina from Jan. 11-13.

Colbert’s rise not only directly coincides with downward trends for leaders Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, but Colbert actually surpassed the Google searches in South Carolina for all other GOP candidates. As the Washington Post warns: “People underestimate the reach and influence of Colbert and (fellow Comedy Central personality) Jon Stewart at their own peril.”

The first commercial shows extended close-ups of Colbert’s face while a voice urges South Carolinians to vote for Herman Cain on Jan. 21.

Some brief back-story: Colbert missed the filing deadline to get on the South Carolina ballot, and the Palmetto State doesn’t recognize any write-in votes; conversely, Cain’s name is still on the South Carolina ballot even though he dropped out of the presidential race. Ergo, the implied message here is that voters can show their support for Colbert by casting a ballot for Cain.

Huffington Post reports that Colbert’s camp reached out to Cain last week and apprised him of the joke ahead of time. Also, according to a press release posted on BuzzFeed, Colbert and Cain will join forces Friday to stage a rally in South Carolina called “The Rock Me Like a Herman Cain: South Cain-olina Primary Rally.”

In this next commercial, Colbert’s super PAC essentially attacks its own candidate. Voters are again encouraged to cast ballots for Herman Cain. Samuel L. Jackson narrates.

The next piece is Colbert’s “attack ad” on Mitt Romney, wherein the former Massachusetts governor is likened to a serial killer — a comparison derived from Romney (a) believing “corporations are people too,” and (b) allegedly butchering several corporations during his time working for Bain Capitol.

“The commercial is a satire of the relentless attacks that a super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich, called ‘Winning Our Future,’ is running in South Carolina,” the New York Times’ The Caucus blog wrote Sunday. The narrator is John Lithgow, who starred in “3rd Rock from the Sun” and played Lord Farquaad in the “Shrek” franchise.

Finally, nobody’s voice says “Americana” quite like Sam Elliott’s. (Some of the organizations for which Elliott has done voice-over work include Dodge, Coors, IBM and the American Beef Council — not to mention that he’s the contemporary voice of Smokey the Bear.) In this commercial voiced by Elliott, the Colbert super PAC promises to run a “double negative” campaign that will use negative attack ads to destroy Romney and Gingrich as a way of punishing the two candidates for running attack ads against each other.

As CBS News reports, near the end of the ad the visual image of a nuclear explosion accompanies Elliott’s deep voice intoning, “An orgy of pure distortion leaving nothing behind but the clean campaign we all deserve.”

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