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Monday, September 13, 2010

Nancy Pelosi Challenger John Dennis Takes Political Ads Over the Rainbow

Posted By on Mon, Sep 13, 2010 at 6:30 AM

click to enlarge "It's nothing mean-spirited against Nancy Pelosi, who obviously deserves respect for a lot of things she's accomplished," says John Dennis. Splash!
  • "It's nothing mean-spirited against Nancy Pelosi, who obviously deserves respect for a lot of things she's accomplished," says John Dennis. Splash!
John Dennis, the Republican challenger to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, has told SF Weekly he'd like a debate with the Speaker of the House. Good luck with that. But, in the meantime, he can content himself with tossing a bucket of water on her stand-in, and melting her. What a world, indeed. 

Dennis has his work cut out for him in a town where Cindy Sheehan outpolled the Republican Congressional candidate last time around -- and Pelosi picked up 71 percent of the vote. But, since desperate times call for desperate measures, Dennis has signed up to star in a series of bizarre, attention-grabbing YouTube commercials, earning coverage from the Wall Street Journal -- which felt the need to repeatedly mention his ill-fitting attire. We'll all have the chance to observe Dennis' "too-tight tux" during a James Bond parody ad in the near future. But Dennis' Wizard of Oz parody is already online; all you have to do to watch it is click your heels three times and keep reading this article.

Dennis' ads, like the spate of jaw-dropping, camp Republican online ads being produced today, are a jarring mix of the highest and lowest of production values. The spots are slick and well put-together, and the computer graphics now available to a filmmaker working on a laptop top those costing millions per second in Terminator II.

And yet, it still looks like the budget for ads like Dennis' could be halved if, say, everyone brought his own lunch to the set. The costumes and non-computer effects are either intentionally or unintentionally hilarious -- really, does it matter? -- and you can say the same about the acting. Dennis -- who didn't get many lines -- confirms he got the bucket-throwing scene right on the first take. And he needed to.

"We only ended up doing one take because the poor woman absorbing this ended up swallowing a bunch of water," he says of his dousing of the Pelosi/Margaret Hamilton lookalike. "I'm a Republican fighting for civil liberties and against government torture, and here I am practically waterboarding this woman."

Dennis' future wacky ads will be placed up every few weeks -- you can't expend all your ammunition at once if you want to win elections. So we'll have to wait to see him in a parody of A Few Good Men (yes, he's the Tom Cruise character; it remains to be seen if Dennis can handle the truth). And we'll wait some more to see the James Bond parody that led the WSJ to bemoan the candidate's tight tux.

"The jacket was made for a 12-year-old. I didn't even put it on," says Dennis -- who describes himself as "six feet tall and pretty big" -- of the costume snafu. "For some reason they screwed up on that jacket. Everything else fit me."

Dennis has raised and spent over a million dollars in this race -- and the real-estate investor has put $50,000 of his own money into the kitty as well. Running against Pelosi, the chances of Dennis getting a return on that investment are long. But he isn't coming away empty-handed.

"At one point, I did get to say, 'Dennis. John Dennis.' For any kid who grew up liking James Bond, that was a thrill," he says. "That was probably my biggest line."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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