A new conservative anti-spending film starring Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee aimed at influencing the midterm elections paints President Clinton as chasing Sarah Palin’s skirt and includes a scene where a cartoon Ronald Reagan K.O.’s President Obama in a boxing ring.
Filmmaker Ray Griggs has told TPM in an interview he used animation in “I Want Your Money” because he wanted to educate young people about the deficit. Problem is, the facts he uses are skewed to make Obama and Nancy Pelosi look like spending bandits — and, while he canonizes Reagan, he fails to mention that the Gipper also raised taxes.
TPM obtained a copy of the film, which includes interviews with Gingrich, Huckabee, Andrew Breitbart and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Griggs’ narration about the good ‘ol days under Reagan, interviews with tea partiers, man-on-the-street clips from New York’s Times Square about the definition of socialism and several cringe-worthy animated scenes of Obama interacting with former presidents dead and living.
Griggs says “I Want Your Money,” which will land in theaters later this month, aims to contrast the “two paths” the United States could take — Obama’s approach or Reagan’s. At the film’s conclusion, Griggs tells viewers that the national debt increased $182 million during the 92-minute movie.
An animated Reagan lectures Obama through most of the film, as the president is portrayed as arrogant and unwilling to entertain anything other than a socialist vision of government. At one point, Reagan offers Obama a snack but Obama puts his feet up on his Oval Office desk and lights up a cigarette.
During the movie, Griggs stands in front of the Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Capitol to talk about the need to cut spending and lower taxes. There’s a scene of himself running up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Rocky-style, wearing a sweatshirt drenched in fake sweat. But Griggs also chose to insert oddball animation of former President Clinton flirting with Palin and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and to mock George W. Bush as unintelligent.
As Obama and Reagan step into the ring to settle their fiscal differences over fisticuffs, Clinton puts his arms around Palin and Pelosi.
“If you want to hang out after this fight is over, I do have a room upstairs,” the cartoon Clinton says, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pops up to shout, “You pig!”
In another scene, cartoon Clinton is shown spying on Palin, dressed in a red suit. “Mmmm-hmm! Some day that girl is going to be the first woman ever to run for president,” Clinton says.
Up pops Mrs. Clinton with, “You pig!” She slaps her husband and tells him, “I ran for president!”
But more disturbing than the cartoon commanders-in chief are Griggs’ twisting of facts. He presents the mistaken Air Force One Manhattan flyover as if it was part of the stimulus bill, and uses some animated chalkboard math to suggest it was Obama who added to the deficit and not Bush.
In the film Griggs talks about Reagan’s two historic presidential victories and portrays the late president as a fiscal hero over footage of 80s dancing to “Walking on Sunshine.” He does not mention that Reagan himself raised taxes.
He does admit that “spending went up more under Bush … mostly due to the war in Iraq,” though he includes 9/11 footage, indicating to his audience that the two were inextricably linked. The film features Republicans saying the GOP lost the House because they failed to live up to promises of fiscal conservatism and for spending too much.
He details the Democratic takeover of Congress, but says that “the spending was so great that President Bush brought out his veto pen for first time in his presidency.” Actually, Bush’s first veto was a bill allowing the funding of embryonic stem cell research, passed by a Republican Congress in July 2006. Bush’s sixth veto was over spending battles with Democrats, in November 2007.
Griggs uses a variety of right-wing Obama memes in his movie, showing footage of his gaffe on the 2008 campaign trail that he had been through “57 states,” and mocking him in this scene below for telling a reporter, “Why can’t I just eat my waffle,” instead of answer questions as he campaigned in a Scranton diner.
The film includes an animated Obama telling “Joe the Squirrel” about spreading the wealth around. “From a tiny acorn mighty government power grows,” Obama says. (Get it?)
Some of the narration is done over video footage of Obama golfing. The animated Obama is seen taking a picture of himself and his Oval Office walls are adorned with a Warhol-style self-portrait and his face on the Mona Lisa.
“Spreading the wealth is good for everyone,” Obama tells Reagan in the Oval. “Isn’t taking money from one person to make three others happy a good thing?”
Reagan scolds him, “We call that socialism.”
The film’s climax includes Reagan knocking Obama out. “I tried just talking to the young man but he just wouldn’t listen,” Reagan says.
Bush is also put through Grigg’s satirical paces, running through a series of one liners, including “Is our children learning,” talking about being “misunderestimated” and “dodging shoes.” He’s seen playing video games and plays the dunce in a classroom. Palin also isn’t spared from ridicule.
“I can see Russia from here,” the former governor says as she eats an ice cream cone on a park bench. “Oh wait, that’s just a cloud.”
The actors who voice the animated portions of the documentary have a wide-ranging list of credits—including some for left-leaning TV shows and violent video games.
The voice of Jimmy Carter’s character, Christopher Cox, has voiced George W. Bush on “American Dad,” as well as numerous voices on Seth McFarlane’s other creation, “Family Guy.”
Jay Lamont, who played Obama, is a standup comedian who’s appeared on Def Jam and BET. Jim Meskimen, who played Richard Nixon, has done voice work for JibJab.
Cindy Robinson (who played Clinton and Pelosi) and Mick Wingert (Schwarzenegger) both recorded audio for the highly popular Xbox360 game Mass Effect 2. Robinson also voiced a character in another blockbuster video game, BioShock 2, and has dubbed several anime shows including “Naruto” and “Bleach.”
The film’s interviews allowed a host of GOPers to criticize the president’s policies.
Former California Gov. Pete Wilson mocked Obama’s “hope and change” message. Voters “had no clue as to what the change was … they were sold a real bill of goods,” he said.
“Obama uses eloquence to hide what he’s really doing,” Gingrich says at one point in the film.
Griggs also takes aim at his home state of California, mocking Arnold Schwarzenegger via cartoon and complaining about the state’s budget woes. Wilson says in the film the Democratic state legislature is to blame, and Breitbart proclaims “California has been run into the ground by radical economic policies of the left,” while images of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Pelosi flash on the screen.
In the opener Griggs says “Hollywood liberals” had their say, and now he could “no longer sit and watch our country go down a path of ever mounting government.”
Griggs, who also brought the comic book flick “Super Capers” to screens last year, is currently working on a film adaptation of Wind in the Willows. Readers might remember him from Rachel Maddow’s critique last fall of Griggs’ “I guess I’m racist” anti-health care ad.
In our August interview, Griggs would not disclose the cost of making the film, but said it was self-funded and that he is not affiliated with any organizations that might benefit from such a movie coming out so close to the election. He described himself as a conservative who thinks Republicans are becoming too much like Democrats, but he did vote in California’s GOP primary this summer.
Among the film’s other featured interviews are John Stossel, the Club for Growth’s Stephen Moore, Ohio’s Kenneth Blackwell and Steve Forbes.
Watch the trailer:
Additional reporting by Jon Terbush