JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Rick Barber and a staggering lack of perspective

So I watched this ad again a few seconds ago while filling up the tub for my son’s bath. I laughed at it before, but upon further review, it’s truly galling. The fact that this man thinks himself worthy for any position other than TOILET CLEANER: PEARLMAN HOUSEHOLD is ludicrous.

My personal favorite line: “We shed a lot of blood to stop that in the past, didn’t we? And now look at us. We’re all becoming slaves to our government.”

First off, you live in Alabama. You’re white, and your ancestors hail from Texas—a slave state. Odds are, your family didn’t shed an ounce of blood to “stop that in the past.” Come to think of it, at one time your relatives probably shed a lot of blood to preserve slavery. Hell, it’s 90/10 you descend, literally, from slave owners.

Second, there’s this thing called taste. Now, as a white Alabaman with a probable family history of slave owners, perhaps you’re callous to such things. But to compare the enslavement of blacks to the recent corporate bailouts and health care reform … well, it’s fucking sick. Beyond sick. Demented, times 1,000. But here’s the problem—Rick Barber and Southern politicians of his ilk know damn well what they’re doing. They’re going to receive about .02% of the African-American vote anyhow, so they used words like “slavery” as red meat for white conservatives. There’s no concern about being cruel, or wrongheaded, or just plain idiotic—because men like Rick Barber are decidedly aware that it’s the dumbest voters of their state who will be wooed by such advertisements.

I must say, if you break down the ad, it could be repackaged in a yellow-and-black book jacket and titled AN IDIOT’S GUIDE TO EARNING THE VOTES OF DOLTS.

A. To show that he’s got wicked smarts, Barber explains—in detail—The Whiskey Act of 1791 by saying to a fictional George Washington, “Mr. President, some argue that you would have been in favor of this tyrannical health care bill because you enforced the Whiskey Act of 1791. But that was an excise tax levied to service the military debt incurred by the Revolutionary War. A legitimate function of government, correct?” (Del, I don’t know what an excise tax is, but this boy seems bright as a bulb. Y’all know we’re fixin’ to vote for him!). As was noted on the website Today in Teabaggery, who out there is actually referencing the incredibly obscure Whiskey Act? And who is using it as an analogy to modern times?

B. I love the fake mole on Abraham Lincoln in this ad. LOVE it. A. Because instead of looking like Lincoln’s mole, it’s akin to a piece of Cookie Crip cereal with some beige paint. Furthermore, has anyone ever seen a more pathetic looking Lincoln? I’ll bet $50 that’s either Barber’s uncle or father. Had Barber boasted any Hollywood connections whatsoever, he would have spent top dollar to lure in Robert V. Barron, the best Lincoln out there. Oh, wait. Barron died 10 years ago. I digress. (By the way, I beg of you to fast forward to seconds 41 through 44. Correct me if I’m wrong, but is that a Lincoln dummy he’s shoving aside? Being serious—I don’t think that’s a real person).

C. I love the awkwardness of seconds 15 and 16, when George Washington nods and this boob—in his own terrible advertisement—doesn’t actually know what to say, so he utters a very brief inaudible mutterance (my own words). Brilliant.

D. I am always inspired by the big-heartedness of Tea Party Republicans. “Hey Abe, if someone’s forced to work for months so that a total stranger can get a free meal, medical procedure or a bailout, what’s that called?” I mean, seriously. Heaven forbid we Americans pay taxes so that a system is in place where people who are hungry or sick can receive aid. So that we have food shelters and public hospitals. How friggin’ sad a statement. How friggin’ sad.

E. I just watched the photo montage after Abe says, “Slavery.” And, holy shit, this guy has the audacity to use photographs from German concentration camps. German. Concentration. Camps. Hey dillweed, guess what? My great-grandmother Johanna died in Auschwitz. This is her photograph. Are you seriously comparing the actions of the Obama administration to my great-grandmother being put to death? Is that what you’re genuinely trying to say?

F. Holy cow. That’s Dale Peterson standing back there. With his gun! He’s the Sarah Palin of Alabama—an utter buffoon, but one with mojo! Yeah, boy! Shoot ’em up!

G. The ending, well, I don’t even get it. I think, in some sort of far-right Republican way, it passes as humor. Or something. Reminds me of the skit when Eddie Murphy dresses up white on SNL, gets on the bus and finds everyone behaves in odd ways.

In conclusion, this man is a boob. Factually, a boob. But more than that, he scares me. Not because he runs bad ads, but because he believes the words that come from his lips, and Alabama is the sort of state he might win. Literally, this man doesn’t want taxes to help the less fortunate (oddly, on his site he claims to be a Christian). Literally, he thinks it’s OK to compare the Nazis and Barack Obama’s policies.

Oy.