"Negative TV Commercials . . . our spots are not approved by George W. Bush. Can I help you?"
"This is the chairman of the Loyal Sons of the Patriots of America. We have soft money to burn, but we want a big bang for it."
"You've come to the right company. We specialize in questioning John Kerry's bravery. Our commercials could win the November election for Bush."
"What spots do you have on the drawing board?"
"Well, we're looking at something mean-spirited and at the same time believable. But I must warn you that George W. Bush does not believe in negative advertising . . . ha, ha, ha. Here's a good one. Suppose we produce a commercial in which the guys in Kerry's Swift boat squadron swear he used steroids while he was in Cambodia and was sent home because he refused to be tested?"
"What else you got?"
"There is a chief petty officer who says he'll go on TV and say Kerry smoked a marijuana joint the night he got his Silver Star."
"Everyone smoked joints in Vietnam. Also, we need something far more negative and, at the same time, not approved by George W. Bush."
"How about a Holiday Inn manager in New Hampshire who will testify on camera that Kerry and Jane Fonda had adjoining rooms in 1971?"
"That's not bad. Do you have any pictures to go with it?"
"No, but it's amazing what you can do with editing software to make two faces look as if they were together."
"What else can you come up with?"
"I think you might like this one. We show a series of weddings with gay partners. They are kissing. A voice-over says, 'John Kerry comes from Massachusetts -- the only state that approves of same-sex marriages.' "
"Does George Bush endorse this ad?"
"Of course not. What kind of president do you think he is?"
"What have you got on Iraq?"
"Our creative department has a TV spot showing Kerry with long hair. The voice-over says, 'John Kerry, the lefty, was against the war in Vietnam and he is against the war in Iraq.' It is only 15 seconds and we can buy time on Bill O'Reilly's show."
"Okay, but we don't have to save money. The Loyal Sons is funded by some of the biggest Bush contributors in Texas. Since it's soft money, our people want to make sure the ads come out during the Republican convention. Do you have one with Senator Dole?"
"We've got one where he denounces Kerry for his three Purple Hearts and asks him to apologize to the 2.5 million veterans who served in Vietnam."
"Go with it. How do you get President Bush to not approve of your commercials?"
"We don't show them to him."
"Who do you show them to?"
"Karl Rove, Bush's election czar. But he will deny that the White House is behind it. Ha, ha, ha."
"Okay. We'll take all the spots as soon as more soft money comes in. Do you take credit cards?"
"Certainly. And since negative advertising does not support either candidate, it is tax-deductible -- as long as we announce that the president did not endorse the ad."
(c) 2004, Tribune Media Services