“Complete the Danged Fence”

McCain stars as a tough guy who can make things happen in this thrilling 30-second drama. Or maybe it was a comedy because I burst out laughing.

UPDATE: Don't miss Milo's post in the comments, which includes tips on how this commercial could have been much more effective, and a script for another "illegal" immigrant commercial.


  1. “It’ll work this time”

    I wonder if a random stormtrooper said that about the second death star…

  2. I’m not sure why, but I sort of assumed McCain would be like John Kerry, and just sort of fade into the background after losing the presidential race. I just don’t really get why he’s getting attention anymore. He’s done.

      1. @invictus: Senator Kerry is also a current US senator.

        @TooGoodToCheck: I think it’s because McCain has chosen to continue his slide into the dark side, instead of realizing that during the 2008 campaign he had become possessed by the right-wing’s evil power-hungry demon and picking himself up, dusting himself off. It’s like watching a car wreck.

      2. He’s a Senator, but a completely marginalized one that none of them take seriously or respect. Despite being the Republican nominee they all hate him. He doesn’t do much at all besides go on the Sunday talk shows, he hasn’t for years. Kennedy was more productive in the 6 months after having a tumor removed from his brain than McCain has been in the past 6 years.

    1. @TooGoodToCheck: McCain’s being challenged from the right by a guy whose single issue is immigration. If he wants to win the Republican primary, he pretty much has to spout a bunch of crazy anti-immigrant rhetoric.

      I’m in the uncomfortable position of hoping McCain wins, because the alternative is worse. Hayworth really is Froot Loops.

  3. yea! more troops! more cops! more troops as cops and cops as troops!

    This country is so screwed. eff you, Senator McCain. eff you hard.

  4. One of us, one of us! Gobble, gobble, we accept him, one of us!

    [Completely juvenile, I know. It’s still the first thing I thought of when the Sheriff said “you’re one of us”.]

  5. If there’s one thing that will bring your presidential aspirations back, it’s certainly going to be smearing the Arizona mess all over yourself. Certainly nothing wrong with that.

  6. “I’m John McCain, and I approve of the entire freaking world watching me pander to racist skinhead stormtroopers.”

    Well played, Senator.

  7. Does McCain always sound like Droopy Dog to anyone else when he’s speaking, or just to me?

  8. Great, now I just hear Early’s voice coming out of McCain’s mouth, and imagine his hat reads “Free hat limit 1”

    Finish the dang fence, and get away from ma TruckboatTruck… Woooh!

  9. But if we finish the danged fence won’t those crazy illegals just crawl through the internet’s series of tubes?

  10. That was the last presidential campaign in a microcosm.

    McCain: More of the same! Except this time, it will work!

  11. 1) Fences and walls have never stopped, but merely impeded human motivation, and created a stronger black market element.

    2) “This plan is perfect” … History has proven that government organizations are anything but. How could they possibly make that statement with a straight face.

    3) Couldn’t they at least have gotten a cop with some hair and a tan. Oh wait, someone said something about “pandering” and “skin-heads” … I’m getting it now.

    4) Finally — how is this going to help? Look at Postville, Iowa and what a successful immigration raid actually achieved. Sure there was humanitarian abuses that were caught, but then the people being saved were abused by the authorities. Then the town was crippled, and their economy trashed. Frontline has a good article:

  12. For 2012 McCain/Jeb Bush

    “Fix ‘dem danged schools!”
    “Win the danged Iraq war!”
    “Lower the danged taxes!”
    “Real danged America!”

    “Round up those danged dark people”

    “…golly jeez, you weren’t supposed to say that last one yet Jeb, ya danged moron”

  13. If “Sheriff Paul Babeu is appearing only in his personal capacity” why is he wearing a uniform? And when he calls McCain “One of us?” if he’s in his personal capacity, does that mean he is agreeing that McCain is a human being or is he stepping back into his role as sheriff on that one?

  14. I’m gonna dang deconstruct this video for a dang second.
    First I’m gonna remove it from any political or media implication.
    That leaves me with McCain gettin’ to wear his cool old Navy hat stompin around a patch of high desert with a border patrol agent. Is that a little bit of chew in his mouth? I believe I see a swagger.
    Add to this that it was created using a movie set.
    My analysis: McCain got to spend a couple of weeks getting to play Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter. All he needs is a revolver.
    I think it was a McCain fun win.

  15. McCain is up for re-election this year. Kerry was up for re-election in 2008, when the national news was dominated by the presidential race.

    1. I think he was going for a Reagan-moment with his “complete the dang fence” supposed to echo “tear down this wall” and I imagine he’s going to try and turn it in to a catch phrase like “drill baby drill”. Expect to hear “ordinary people” shouting this at future McCain rallies and Tea Party protests very soon.

  16. Get off my lawn!

    Rented “Sleep Dealer” last night. A sci fi flick featuring Mexicans doing labor through telepresence. The perfect American solution: Mexican labor without the laborers.

  17. Who is this ad supposed to speak to? I mean, is anyone who was (ahem) “on the fence” about McCain or the border fence idea going to be swayed by this? It’s just so poorly done: views of empty desert, wooden acting, “it’ll work this time” sounds so much like “famous last words”, etc.

    I always want to ask the Obama-haters: “What would be different or better right now if McCain/Palin had taken the Oval Office instead? If Obama is doing such a horrible job, what would they have done that would be miraculous in comparison?”

  18. John McCain is…
    On Deadly Ground
    Under Siege
    Out For Justice
    Marked For Death
    Above The Law

  19. It’s only water
    In a stranger’s tear
    Looks are deceptive
    But distinctions are clear
    A foreign body
    And a foreign mind
    Never welcome
    In the land of the blind
    You may look like we do
    Talk like we do
    But you know how it is

    You’re not one of us
    Not one of us
    No you’re not one of us
    Not one of us
    Not one of us
    No you’re not one of us

    There’s safety in numbers
    When you learn to divide
    How can we be in
    If there is no outside
    All shades of opinion
    Feed an open mind
    But your values are twisted
    Let us help you unwind
    You may look like we do
    Talk like we do
    But you know how it is

    You’re not one of us
    Not one of us
    No you’re not one of us

    –Peter Gabriel

  20. This ad would be so much better if Mike Judge did the voices. I can just imagine a Boomhauer rant ending in “…finish that dang ‘ol fence, man.” *beer sip*.

  21. Gabba gabba we accept you, we accept you one of us!

    I don’t wanna be a pinhead no more. I just met a nurse that I could go for.

    Everyone’s accusing me!

    Gabba gabba hey!

  22. To quote Think Progress:

    “There’s something wrong with McCain’s video: Nogales is in Santa Cruz County. Babeu, however, is from Pinal County, which is 115 miles north in central Arizona…”

    Here’s a map: http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/arizonamcap.gif

    As Andrea Nill explains on the Wonk Room, “Chances are McCain didn’t feature a local border town police chief because that person probably would’ve told him his ten-point plan is a waste of manpower and resources.” Indeed, the assistant police chief in Nogales has said that they have not “witnessed any spillover violence from Mexico.” The Santa Cruz County sheriff has also said that the state’s new anti-immigration law — which McCain called a “good tool” — is downright racist.

  23. I’ve heard about these ‘home invasions’ and ‘murder’ that happen in Arizona and other places.

    Will this wall keep out the S.W.A.T. teams?

  24. This actually could’ve been pretty badass if it weren’t for the godawful script. To the folks that made this ad, a few pointers:

    1) Never, ever use the phrase “it’ll work this time.” This implies you screwed it up at least once, probably several times. Instead, have your actors be as cool and badass as possible. This is emotional assurance to both your base and fence-sitting (ha!) voters that your guys know what the hell they’re doing.

    2) Don’t tell us McCain is one of us– show it. Rewrite the dialogue and this time cap things off like any other gritty man-to-man exchange: a handshake. Maybe a slow, but assuredly manly, mutual nod (bonus points if you do it Leone-style). Maybe a confident ‘thank-you, Senator’. But anything more explicit than this just sounds cheesy and pandering.

    3) Badasses say ‘damned’, not ‘danged’. Look, the man probably knows how to swear better than anyone else in the Senate. And we all know that he hates theatrics. Let him have a rare moment of honest self-characterization. Your voter base won’t care and the rest of us will be impressed, if not persuaded. Fifteen years from now, when all the major political ads feature top-level actors and multiple explosions, we’ll look back at this ad and think: this is it– this is where it all started. Now that’s a badass legacy.

    Start it now. No, really: I think you guys have something going here. Make it a series. Have each spot address a different facet of the illegal immigration crisis. For example:


    OPENING SCENE: [An overhead shot of dimly lit office with bare walls and glowing green fluorescent lights. A ceiling spins lazily. We hear a shuffling. A frumpy guy in an untucked white shirt and khakis walks through the shot over to one of the file cabinets. The camera switches to a view of him opening the cabinet, his fingers carefully working their way back to a file. He grabs it. Switch to an overhead shot of the desk. The man throws the files on the desk. Close-up shot from same angle: the file contains employee tax forms. Back to the overhead shot. The man sits down. Switch to a side profile. He lights a cigarette. He exhales slowly through his nostrils as he peruses the forms. He smiles. Suddenly, there’s a loud knock.]

    SWAT #1: POLICE! Open up!

    [The man scrambles to hide the files and lock up the cabinet. Loud knocking is replaced by sounds of a door buster. Close-up of the man as he looks up: he’s sweating. Suddenly, the door burst open. Two SWAT team members quickly sweep the immediate entrance. One of them quickly moves into the office threshold and sweeps his flashlight across the room. The man cowers before the bright beam like a frozen cockroach.]


    [The man slowly nods and does as instructed. Just then, a man in a black suit and sunglasses walks into the busted office, flanked by two more SWAT team members. It’s dead quiet. He cooly strolls through the office, taking his time to look around, before crouching down in front of the captured man, who’s breathing heavily. In one confident and assured motion, he takes off his sunglasses.

    It’s John motherf–king McCain.

    The man is now breathless. He tries to say something, anything.]

    Man: Mister, uh, Senator, I–
    McCain: Shut up. [McCain stares into the man’s eyes for one very long second. He pats the man on the head, gently chuckles, and stands up, now facing one of the SWAT team members.]
    McCain: Good work.
    SWAT #2: [nods] Thank you, sir.

    [McCain slowly glances down at the man, smiles, nods to the SWAT team, and leaves the office. Switch to outside camera. McCain gets in an H3 Hummer, driver’s side, and takes off into the twilight horizon of the Arizona desert. Fade to black, now with a quick fade-in of text in bold, sans-serif white lettering:

    Illegal hirers, your days are numbered, too.

    Arizon’s John McCain, U.S. Senate

    –the end–

    See? Totally badass.

  25. Or maybe it was a comedy because I burst out laughing.

    I have a hard time laughing at the implication that undocumented immigrants are “human traffickers,” “home invaders,” and “murderers.” Furthermore, the idea that this ad was likely focus grouped and then crafted to appeal to a large constituency make me a sad panda indeed.

  26. McCain was the darling of the sunday talk shows for many years before he even ran against Bush for the nomination.

    I’m really not sure exactly why that is. To some degree I suspect it is more that there are a few people like McCain who just love going on those shows and are almost always willing to do so. Pretty soon they become an automatic call for the lazy talk show producer because they usually say yes.

    Of course there is also the standard 2:1 or greater right:left ratio of guests on those shows.

    1. He used to be more center-right than right-right. I think he jumped on the crazy train during his last presidential run and forgot to get off at his stop.

      1. In his 2000 presidential bid, he was slightly to the left of the current Democratic Party.

  27. “You’re one of us” as in “You’re a racist just like me.”

    People who use “illegal” as a noun are racist jerks.

    1. “Illegals” doesn’t sound inherently racist to me, but it’s certainly as insanely dehumanizing as a term for actual people.

  28. Can conservatives do anything without fear-mongering?
    Seriously, you’d think “Illegals” was the name of an international criminal syndicate.

  29. I love it. “This plan is infallible, in spite of all of the evidence of history.”

  30. He’s still old. He’s still pandering to whoever he feels will get him “the vote”. He’s still irrelevant and clueless. And he’s still pushing the fear-mongering. He’s a joke. Much like anyone taking this tragedy of a clip seriously.

    Also, he still sounds like The Penguin.

  31. How many billions of dollars did these “fiscal conservatives” spend on a failed virtual fence?

  32. McCain is grandstanding because he is against Hayward, a crazy former Representative and talk show personality. He is trying to get to the right of him, and that’s pretty far right, hence the commercial. Yes I am sure Sheriff Babeau, rookie Sheriff for Pinal County and before that Chandler Police Officer, knows so much about the border. If McCain wanted to go extreme why didn’t he get Sheriff Joe in there?

  33. My kind of Americans have a different dimmer view of fences:

    Or perhaps Mr Byrne’s take:

    My country’s too big for fences.

  34. Oh, WALNUTS! Sad to see you going out with such a complete lack of principles and dignity…

  35. “Senator, you’re one of us.”

    Overconfident? Check. Thinks it’ll work if we just throw enough money and guns at it? Check. White guy who wants to keep the brown people from entering the land we stole from them back in ’48? Check. Yep, I guess he really is one of them. The fucker.

  36. To be honest, McCain’s always been kinda OK in my book…it’s this weird issue that seems odd to me.
    But I have always hated fences, even as a child.

  37. im john mccain, and i use spray-on tan.

    right? he’s got that stuff on, i do believe.

    1. You’d be tanned, too, if you spent your days chasing kids off your lawn.

  38. People are angry at illegal immigration. It’s like cutting in line in front of the legal migrants who spend a lot of time and money to become Americans.

    1. Personally, as someone who is trying to become a legal immigrant, and is being driven hugely into debt because of the incompetence of the USCIS and the immigration process in general, I have absolutely no problems with people who feel like skipping the whole mess.

      They’re not cutting in line to the visas. They’re not endangering my chances of getting one, they’re not making me wait longer.

      Not so much like someone cutting in line to get to the food faster: more like people who’re just growing their own.

      They’re the ones paying taxes without any hope of getting a pension at the end. They’ll be the taxes bailing the country out now the baby boom’s hitting retirement age right as the country hits record deficits.

      Trying to keep them out as appeasement to the voters seems like a really short sighted move to me.

      But I’m no economist, I could be wrong.

  39. This campaign ad would have benefitted from the presence of some scary aliens on the other side of the fence and from having an action sequence.

  40. The truly atrocious part of this ad is that the Sheriff depicted (Babeau) is NOT THE SHERIFF OF THE COUNTY they are walking in. He is the sheriff of Pinal county, which is NOT ON THE BORDER.

    The sheriff of the county on the border is on record questioning the utility of the border fence, as well as the new 1070 law in AZ, noting that the number of border crossers apprehended and overall violence on the AZ side of the border has been DECLINING in the past couple of years.

  41. Not sure why my original comment was deleted. It certainly was less offensive than “Christ, what an asshole.”

    I hope there’s a special section of Hell for people who throw the term “racist” around. To call McCain (or anyone else) a racist because he wants illegal immigration stopped is asinine.

    I suppose if I have a problem with a person whose skin color doesn’t match mine, that makes me a racist too?

  42. Congratulations, we’ve all lived to see the age where political ideologies go out the window. Where politicians will say anything regardless of political affiliations in order to get power. In this new age of sociopathic political alignment, my vote is going to to Hannibal Lecter this next election cycle because all other candidates are medium rare by comparison.

  43. Somebody please shoop a family of “illegals” jumping over the fence behind them.

  44. When he tells McCain “Yer one of US” all I can think of is “Yer White like me, not a mongrel”

  45. After “You’re one of us now” I’d like to see someone add some video where they unzip their bodies from the scalp right down the middle and show they are aliens.


  46. Just to make sure… this isn’t just a dubbed over skit, or something, is it?

    I mean… walls. Separation barriers, which aren’t fortifications against military incursion, but are designed to stop civilians from one side crossing into the other, like the Israeli West Bank wall, the Berlin wall, the Moroccan wall, the Spanish fences: they all end up named “The Wall of Shame”.

    How could anyone who likes small government vote for someone who supported this ad?

  47. @bbbaldie

    I believe the argument isn’t so much “He’s racist because he wants illegal immigration stopped,” but rather “He wants illegal immigration stopped because he’s a racist.” Or perhaps more exhaustively, “his objections to illegal immigration, and his choice to elevate the importance of it as an issue are tied to the language, culture, and skin color of the majority of illegal immigrants. He doesn’t like Hispanic people, and the majority of illegal immigrants are Hispanic, so he cares more about illegal immigration than he could if they were white English speakers.”

    Or perhaps “he’s appealing to a dislike of Latinos in his base, and employing illegal immigration as a way to turn a general desire for a reduced Latino presence into votes.” That’s more cynical than racist on his part, though.

    Now you may very well disagree with that analysis, and have a reasonable set of objections to those assertions above, but I believe it is necessary to acknowledge the true nature of what you’re disagreeing with the avoid straw men.

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