Leaving aside the painful ending to last night's Super Bowl, there were a any number of ads that made this viewer think, "What the hell????"
At first, I couldn't decide if the "Ewwwwww" Award should go to the Doritos ad with the homicidal rat or to the vomiting E-Trade baby. With a little more reflection, though, I realized that the Coke ad with former Senate Majority leader Bill "Cat-skinner" Frist and James "Snakehead" Carville really took the prize.
Yes, I know -- Co'cola is a fine Southern beverage tradition.
I remain unconvinced, however, that Coke is an aid to bipartisanship.
Plenty has been written about Carville and the Clinton War Room. A strategist, Carville has been up front about his share of red-meat politicking and makes no apologies for coming out in the Democratic corner. I don't always agree with him, but what you see is what you get.
Frist, on the other hand, held elected office and served as Senate majority leader. During his tenure he presided over the gutting of funds for education and health care (though if you were in an irreversible coma, he'd make an exception for you). All the while, he talked about his moral values, his work as a health care provider & his respect for life.
Because of ongoing cuts in education funding, schools have been forced to look for revenue from the private sector. One of the more popular ways to do this has been the soda vending machine contract. The Center for Science in the Public Interest just released a report on soda makers directly marketing to elementary school students in schools that have vending contracts with them.
With a growing number of uninsured Americans, the dental and health impacts of soda are magnified. American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association have been vocal about the serious problems that soda causes.
At the end of the day, Frist & Carville helped divide our country into red states and blue states. Cashing checks from Coke doesn't make it funny. And it doesn't help undo the damage that years of "compassionate conservatism" have done to the education and health of our nation.
(For those of you who think I'm overreacting, would the ad still be funny if Karl Rove had taken Bill Frist's place?)