by Rob DiCristino
Kind of hard to talk about this one without spoilers, folks. You’ve been warned.
Full disclosure: I’m a child of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I came of age during the George W. Bush regime, a hardscrabble era (era) in which we all tried desperately to cope with the juvenile antics of an ill-equipped jackass who stumbled into the Office of the President by way of cultural nepotism, colossal civic ignorance, and a bafflingly-convoluted electoral system that even scholars struggle to justify. That time may be over, but I still remember how much I relied on Stewart & Company to help me understand what was happening, to affirm my dogged hope that, despite our prejudices and insecurities, our culture could and would survive. The Daily Show (along with The West Wing) shepherded my budding liberalism across the threshold into adulthood, and Jon Stewart soon became my Walter Cronkite. My Mark Twain. I carried America: The Book from class to class, a supplement to (and sometimes a replacement for) my actual textbooks. In the early days of YouTube, I found my own little Moments of Zen to share with friends. I miss it. I miss the days when Jon Stewart made it all okay.
Most of Irresistible plays like a fish-out-of-water comedy in which Coastal Elite Gary struggles to connect with Real Americans. Hoping to look more authentic, he tells his assistants to rent him a Ford instead of his usual Tesla. Hoping to seem callused and hard-working, he orders “a Bud and a burger” from the local tavern. He gets fat on Midwestern delicacies and figures out how to run a campaign with dial-up internet. He smiles and waves at strangers. It’s all so quaint! Jack is the real thing, though, and Gary has a gift for turning the Colonel’s battle-tested philosophy into political slogans. Diana may sneer at his cynicism — after all, the Colonel just wants to “bring back the base” and revitalize the local economy — but Gary sees this campaign as a genuine opportunity to get his groove back. He crafts TV spots featuring the Colonel blasting a machine gun and preaching the Bible; he’s a New Kind of Democrat, the ads assure us, a resolute leader for Americans of all stripes. Where the xenopobic and condescending Faith goes low, Gary goes...well, just slightly higher.
Yeah, and? That’s it? That’s all you’ve got?