Will NBC’s prime time entertainment shows function as the equivalent of DNC-TV this election year, snidely bashing Republicans in the guise of wry cultural commentary? Just last month, an episode of NBC’s “Medium” featured an ex-POW state senator from Arizona as a murdering cannibal. And on last Thursday’s episode of “30 Rock,” the sitcom featured a stridently anti-Republican plot in which a fictitious conservative corporate executive (played by Alec Baldwin) launches a celebrity ad campaign to prevent African-Americans from voting because, as a black character argues, “No matter what, [black Americans] are gonna always vote Democrat.”
The 30-minute program was filled with potshots against the GOP and conservatives, including the idea that the tortured ex-POW John McCain is being backed by something called “The Committee to Re-Invade Vietnam.” The corporate executive portrayed by Baldwin, “Jack Donaghy,” is a ridiculous parody of a conservative businessman, blurting out comments such as “My cologne is distilled from the bilge water of Rupert Murdoch’s yacht,” and “Not thinking is what makes America great.”
Baldwin has not been exactly shy about his partisanship. Some might remember that in 1998 he ranted about stoning Republican Congressman Henry Hyde and his family to death. In 2000, Baldwin threatened that if George W. Bush was elected President “it would be a good time to leave the United States,” and a few months after the 9/11 attacks he railed that the Florida recount “has done as much damage to our country as any terrorist attack could do.” In 2005, he frothed that “the leadership class of the Republican Party is a conservative Christian loony bin....a bunch of sociopathic maniacs who have their lips super-glued to the ass of the conservative right.”
MRC intern Lyndsi Thomas took down the key parts of Thursday’s "30 Rock," which began with Donaghy attempting to round up celebrity talent for a McCain fundraiser, only to discover that the best his aide could come up with was “Bucky Bright” (played by Tim Conway), a child star from the ’40s and ’50s.
“Good God,” Baldwin’s character exclaims, “When did the party become so boring? The Democrats have all the good celebrities.”
So Donaghy recruits “Tracy Jordan,” the African-American star of the fictional NBC show that Donaghy oversees, to make a Republican commercial designed to help the party attract minorities. Jordan, played by Tracy Morgan, is at first resistant:
JACK DONAGHY: Tracy, my friend. Have you ever considered becoming the celebrity face of the Republican party?
TRACY JORDAN: What? Hell, no. Black people supporting Republicans? Does hot support cold? Does rain support the earth?
DONAGHY: Now that misperception is precisely why the GOP needs better celebrities, and a black celebrity such as yourself would really make us look good.
After Donaghy pitches the GOP as the party of lower taxes, gun ownership, states’ rights and Abraham Lincoln, Jordan wavers: “The Republican party sounds pretty attuned to my unique way of life. But I’d be turning my back on my people to support it. You've put me in a quandary, Jack Donaghy.”
After a dream in which he meets the ghost of Richard Nixon (also played by Baldwin) and learning that Sammy Davis, Jr. was a Republican, Jordan signs up, but his first attempt at a pro-Republican commercial is a failure.
Right at the outset, Jordan stumbles on Donaghy’s culturally insensitive script: “My fellow black-mericans — hey, Jack. Can I just say black Americans? There’s no such thing as black-mericans.” Donaghy supportively replies, “That’s great, that’s why you’re here.”
“My fellow black Americans,” Jordan continues, “Dr. King once had a dream, a dream that we all share: To build a 200-foot high wall to keep Mexico out. And he also hated the estate tax.” Jordan’s black friend “DotCom” shakes his head in disgust: “Unbelievable.”
Jordan tells Donaghy: “Jack, I don't know about this. The Republican party means less taxes, more guns, and the end of the gun tax. But everybody isn’t forward-thinking like I am. No matter what, black-mericans are gonna always vote Democrat.”
Donaghy agrees: “They will, won’t they? Unless-”
The next scene cuts to the final commercial, in which Jordan pitches: “Black people: don’t vote! Just don’t do it! In the amount of time it’d take for you to vote, you could play three games of pool. Three! And that’s fresh. I’m Tracy Jordan, and I improved this message.” A female announcer the intones: “Paid for by the Committee to Re-invade Vietnam.”
Donaghy looks to Jordan: “Sure feels good to make a difference, doesn’t it.”
Jordan agrees. “Yes, it does.” He holds up a screwdriver. “Now if you’ll excuse me, Nixon asked me to take some stuff out of his Wikipedia page.”