WASHINGTON, DCIn an attempt to gain support among idle and sleepless Americans, the Bush Administration made its case for the continuing war in Iraq in a one-hour paid program that premiered early Tuesday morning.
The infomercial, cohosted by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Dynasty star Linda Evans, was shot in a Burbank, CA studio before an audience of approximately 60 tourists and college-age Republicans.
Produced by the White House Communications Office in collaboration with Excelsior Direct Marketing International, the infomercial was characterized by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan as "an effort by the administration to show the public that the occupation of Iraq is an unbelievable success, and if they don't understand that, they are missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
The paid program, called Amazing Policies, opened with a splashy title sequence, then cut to the audience greeting Rumsfeld and Evans with applause.
"From what you've heard about foreign wars, I bet you all think freedom in Iraq costs about $500 trillion and 2 million civilian casualties," Rumsfeld said. "Well, you're wrong. Try $238 billion and some 30,000 casualties!"
"I don't know," a skeptical Evans responded. "That insurgency looks pretty ground in. I don't think you'll ever get something like that out."
"Think again, Linda," Rumsfeld said. "If you'll just put on these goggles and look into that screen, you can see for yourself!"
"Whoa!" Evans said, after gutting an underground bunker with a remote-controlled cluster bomb. "It's so easy."
The infomercial was interspersed with glowing pretaped testimonials from coalition partners, American soldiers, and Iraqi business leaders. Australian Prime Minister John Howard was particularly kinetic in his endorsement of the Iraq war plan.
"Don and Linda, I'm here to let you in on the world's best-kept secret," said a wide-eyed, floral-shirted Howard from the beautiful Dunk Island resort off the coast of Cairns, Australia. "The strategy for victory in Iraq is working! Last January, Iraqis went to the polls and elected leaders for a transitional government and drafted a working constitution establishing unheard-of rights for the people of Iraq! And in December, they elected representatives to the National Assembly!"
"Amazing!" Howard added, arms outstretched.
Ibrahim Ja'lal, a newly elected Iraqi Assembly member, also delivered a ringing endorsement.
"Before Bush's unilateral decision to invade, we Iraqis weren't looking so hot," Ja'lal said, pointing toward a video montage of "before" photos of Iraqi corpses, starving children, and chemical-weapons victims. "But now look at these images from 'after'! They're dancing in the discos!"
The montage of "after" photos included an image of a scantily clad belly dancer, which prompted Rumsfeld to quip, "Ooh-la-Allah."
Evans expressed trepidation about the likelihood of establishing an entirely new way of life in a country we don't fully understand.
"Linda, I hear youyou're worried about the complexity of implementing our plan for victory in Iraq," Rumsfeld said. "But that's the beauty of it. The U.S. government has a team of expert strategists and war planners standing by to make all those difficult decisions for you! And a military that is standing by to answer the call of duty."
"You know, I wasn't sure at first," Evans said. "But now that I've heard the facts about Operation Iraqi Freedom, I can't deny that your argument is airtight!"
"As airtight as this inflatable mattress," said Rumsfeld, gesturing toward a blow-up bed being stomped by two sumo wrestlers. "They can't punch any holes in that air bed, and the naysayers can't punch any holes in our justifications for occupying Iraq with military force."
The commercial is scheduled to air on local network and cable stations across the country through February 2012.