HBO not only bought the rights to broadcast Obama-hallowing Inauguration events. Patrick Healy of The New York Times reported on Wednesday it’s also bankrolling Will Ferrell’s one-man Broadway stage show mocking George W. Bush called "You’re Welcome, America" over the next few months. (They’ll also air it on HBO in March.)
Ferrell talked to the Times about Bush’s election in 2000: "It was just the craziest thing in modern political history," Mr. Ferrell said, "and then the crazy stuff kept going for eight years. Most administrations have a domestic problem, an overseas problem. Ethics. But these guys covered it all."
Ferrell’s writing partner Adam McKay was blunter about the Bush-bashing show’s overarching theme: "It really gets to the question of how Americans covered their eyes and ears for the last eight years, how cowed the media was. I think America got caught at its fattest and laziest, and I say that as someone who is fat and can be lazy."
You know someone's ultraliberal when they insist the liberal media was so "cowed" by Bush. Ferrell also declared he hasn’t met Bush, so his portrayal can be unbiased:
Mr. Ferrell said he had never received any feedback from Mr. Bush, which comes as a relief: "Not for fear that he would punch me in the face or anything, but more just to help me stay unbiased about how I play him." Mr. Ferrell’s sense of Mr. Bush’s personality is neither one-dimensional nor ideological; as he describes it, it sounds somewhat complicated.
"I kind of feel like he’s someone who — and I think this is documented — he is someone who is seeking acceptance throughout his entire life, and finally got into the most prominent position of power in the world, and then thought ‘My way or the highway,’ " said Mr. Ferrell, who paused as he discussed Mr. Bush, choosing his words carefully rather than cracking jokes that might seem demeaning. "There are times when I was doing him and I thought, ‘I kind of feel sorry for him.’ But then I’d think, ‘No, he’s a grown man, he needs to be held accountable for what happened.’ "
Ferrell also hoped audiences would find it "cathartic." His partner McKay certainly wasn’t shy in adding more fuel to the fire:
"We very quickly discovered we could do a three-hour show with this character — the more you dig into who he is, where he comes from, it’s really shocking and extremely interesting at the same time," Mr. McKay said. "We can’t help but fail in portraying the scope of how much of a disaster the last eight years have been."
The Times recounted an interview Ferrell did with Jon Stewart in his pseudo-Bush character about how his memoirs would be:
"Listen, Jon, just shut up. This book is going to make a great movie. It’s like a cross between ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Forrest Gump’ -- only with e-mails being deleted, and torture."
That certainly tickled the ribs of the HBO people who pay Bill Maher to put on a left-wing talk/tirade show.
[H/t Dan Gainor]