New Joe Donnelly Senate Ad Is A ‘Veep’ Rip-Off

If we accept the notion that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Sen. Joe Donnelly just paid Jonah Ryan some high praise. The Indiana Democrat’s latest re-election ad is so cliched that it was satirized by “Veep” two years before it ever came out.

Back in season five, “Veep” mocked the hackneyed stylings of campaign advertisements with “Chopping,” an ad produced by Jonah Ryan for Congress (not to be confused with Jon H. Ryan). This week, Donnelly’s not-so-fictional campaign released “Axe,” an unwitting recreation of Ryan’s masterpiece.

The ad is suspiciously similar to “Chopping,” (as Jerry Dunleavy first noted here). Like Ryan’s spot before him, “Axe” finds Donnelly splitting wood in a clearing, punctuating canned lines about his political opponent with swings at a log.

Both are outfitted appropriately in jeans and plaid. Gratuitous action shots of their axes hitting the wood abound. And the puns, oh, the puns. Donnelly’s may indeed be worse. As he claims to have “split with my own party,” the incumbent splits a log. Words like “chop” and “cut” make appearances.

“The liberal left wants to chop defense spending. No way!” Donnelly says with a shake of his axe. Ryan’s ad, by comparison, features this effective line: “President Selina Meyer thinks she can chop our prosperity, our dignity, and our stature around the world. Well, someone is chopping back.”

Like Ryan’s spot, Donnelly’s concludes on a shot of him from the waist up, holding the axe, staring straight into the camera, and approving the message.

Whatever Donnelly paid his consultants to produce the commercial was too much, given that it would have taken him no more than an HBO GO subscription to pull that idea straight from the network. Ultimately, “Axe” is a pretty great testament to the quality of “Veep’s” satire, which is rooted in so accurate an understanding of Washington that it mocked Donnelly’s ad years before someone ever conceived of it. 

If he manages to get re-elected, perhaps Donnelly should direct his attention to conquering the scourge of Daylight Saving Time, which has inarguably “become an unconscionable burden for ordinary Americans.” While we’re here, please enjoy this selection of the best moments from the political career of Jonah Ryan, also known as Jonad, Jono Ono, Guyscraper, and Tall McCartney.

h/t to Jerry Dunleavy