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Come Saturday Morning: Bad Astroturfers and a Sublime Satirist

Heard about the alleged grassroots “I Need A Freakin’ Job” billboard? The one that two brothers, Scott and Jeff Baker, put up? They’ve got a really slick website, too. Guess what — Jeff Baker works for known right-wing propaganda machine Andrew Breitbart.
Turns out that’s probably not the case (h/t solai in comments), even though it sure looks like a Breitbart job. In any event, the speed with which they were picked up by right-wing media is not something that I’m used to seeing happen with true grassroots stuff, but is very much like how the GOP-affliated Tea Party Nation — the one with the bus tours and Sarah Palin and the requirement that all its candidates back the GOP platform or else — has managed to swamp the actual, non-GOP-affiliated right-wing rebel groups.

Let’s take the taste of Breitbart out of our minds, shall we? On to my next subject, the one featured in the video in this post:

There are very serious-minded ways to address the problem of racism, particularly as directed against Latino and other brown-skinned immigrants. And then there’s the downright hilarious methods of Robert Erickson, who seems to be channelling Stephen Colbert and the late lamented Ladies Against Women in terms of holding up a mirror to his right-wing targets so they can get a nice, long look at what they’re espousing.

This is the young man who first shot to local fame when he dared to punk a Tea Party gathering at the State Capitol last November posing as an anti-illegal-European-immigrant activist. (The full story is here.) His latest tweaking of Republican bigotry came during St. Paul’s Cinco de Mayo Parade, when he infiltrated the group of Republicans marching in support of Tom Emmer, who is the Republican endorsed candidate for governor. The small handwritten sign he’s holding reads “Emmer, show us your papers!” in Spanish — a joke that none of the Emmer people got but had the Latinos along the parade route in stitches.

The only things funnier than his videos are the labored attempts of local conservatives to twist themselves into pretzels in their efforts to avoid getting the joke. Here’s a piece of particularly lame hissy kabuki from Bill Jungbauer, who just happens to be the really obnoxious guy who shows up at around 2:50 into the video. (He’s also prominent in the St. Paul GOP. You’d think Republicans could weed out the dingbats; instead, they make them vice chairs.) For some reason, he thinks — or wants his readers to think — that Erickson was put up to this by one of the Democratic candidates. Ah, would that this were so; they’re all far too Minnesota Nice to do such a fabulous thing. Meanwhile, local agent proschlockateur and “street theater” connoisseur Mitch Berg, seething with envy over not having thought of something half this clever, goes into Innocence Abused Mode.

Mr. Erickson and Mike Stark should hook up sometime. They could be our very own version of The Yes Men.

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