Getting the Last Laugh

09/30/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It's been a week of wall-to-wall campaign coverage. The Denver lovefest ended as soon as I woke up and learned that John McCain had chosen his running mate. Like many others, the first thing I did was to write a blog, and add my voice to the chorus of disbelief on the Huffington Post.
Ranting on the Huffington Post wasn't enough. So I spent the rest of the day ranting to anyone who would listen. And everyone seemed to agree with me. Sarah Palin was chopped into tiny pieces--her life in Alaska and lack of experience were almost too easy a target. But by the end of the day, something about this whole Sarah Palin thing was bothering me, and I didn't know what it was.

For our entire marriage, my husband has provided an ongoing tutorial on escapism, i.e. movies. And a little escapism was definitely in order. He likes his escapism tough. He suggested seeing "The Traitor". But as soon as he began with the words, "Don Cheadle plays a terrorist...." I vetoed that and we went to see a comedy, Hamlet 2.

The escape worked for two hours. When I got home, I still had the same opinion of Sarah Palin. But watching a comedy helped me identify what's been nagging at me: I've seen this movie before; in fact, I've seen it twice.

It wasn't my kind of movie, and nearly everyone I know hated it as much as I did. We all assumed no one would possibly want to buy tickets---since the star was THAT bad. Like Sarah Palin, he was neither experienced as an actor, nor talented. Yet much to the amazement of me and people who think like me, there were other people who LIKED this movie and its star. It played well in the heartland, and it was a big hit. In fact, there was a sequel. In 2004. Which shocked a lot of people like me--again--when it turned out to be another big success.

In Hollywood, comedies usually don't win prizes at the Oscars but they make money. They're predictable formula movies. And this director obviously found a winning formula. Karl Rove, his name is.

For the third installment they're doing what they sometimes do in Hollywood--like a recent movie that was supposed to star Tom Cruise but is being rewritten for Angelina Jolie. It requires a little tweaking, but the producers are keeping the same plot, theme, and the familiar qualities of the central character--with the non-threatening profile, anti-intellectual identity, and the common touch that is appealing to many Americans.

Plenty of movies succeed without good reviews, and without the support of the critics in New York and Los Angeles. There are other places in America where a movie can find an appreciative audience. So the producers don't care if the audiences on the Huffington Post are laughing and making fun of their star. Because while we're laughing at them, maybe we don't realize that they might be laughing at us. Just like they did with Karl Rove's other movies....laughing all the way to the White House.