The campaign ad begins outside, the candidate clad in outdoor wear, chopping wood on a stump.
It is a work of fiction, a fake advertisement for a character, Jonah Ryan, in the HBO show “Veep,” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
But this week, Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat in the midst of a tough reelection fight in Indiana, released his own campaign ad that was curiously similar to the TV show’s fictitious “Jonah Ryan for Congress” clip.
As in the ad from “Veep,” Donnelly stands outdoors, holding an ax in his hands, using wood chops to emphasize his campaign talking points, which are peppered with woodcutting metaphors.
Donnelly uses his ad to tout his independence from liberal orthodoxy.
“I split with my own party,” he says as the ax comes down on a piece of wood, “to support funding for Trump’s border wall. The liberal left wants to chop defense spending. No way.”
Social media users quickly noticed the similarities between the two ads.
“Uncanny,” the IndyStar said.
“I’m sending [Donnelly] a cease and desist,” wrote Timothy Simons, the actor who played Jonah Ryan on Veep.
The IndyStar did point out some differences:
For example, Donnelly does his own narration during the ad while Ryan uses a voiceover.
And Donnelly, showing his love of responsible wood chopping, makes sure to wear gloves and safety goggles whenever he takes a swing. Ryan recklessly eschews both.
Also, Ryan is wearing a turtleneck while Donnelly opts for a simple button-up.
Donnelly’s Republican challenger, Mike Braun, released a strange edit of the ad on Twitter set to horror-film music, calling it “The Whining.”
A few hours later, Braun took another swing at his opponent’s new ad.
Donnelly’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
At least in Jonah Ryan’s case, the “Chopping” ad appeared to have some positive effect: The character eventually won his bid to be elected to Congress. According to the Hollywood Reporter, HBO rolled out the trappings of a campaign for the character, including newspaper ads in a New Hampshire newspaper and a campaign website.