The Filmmaker Behind the Most Talked About Political Ad Since ‘Daisy’


I first “met” Ladd Ehlinger Jr. last year, when his movie Hive Mind came out on DVD. No shrinking violet, Ehlinger contacted me. After all, I wrote a lot about talk radio, right? Would I be interested in getting a copy of his latest flick about what would happen if a radio talker like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh was the last man on earth, and everyone else had been transformed into liberal nudist zombies?

Would I?

After I wrote about his flick, we stayed in touch via Twitter. Ehlinger got his own radio show, and started blogging pretty seriously. But until yesterday, I didn’t realize that he was the guy behind a campaign spot for a formerly obscure Alabaman running for an even more obscure position (what the hell is an “agricultural commissioner”?) — a commercial that’s already pushing 650,000 views on YouTube and has been called “the most American thing ever made.” (Gawker meant that as an insult, by the way.)

Reporters and pundits have been trying to top each other’s descriptions of the unforgettable commercial:

The spot has everything conservative dreams are made of:  guns, dog tags, the US Constitution, a horse, a 10-gallon hat, and a healthy dose of good, old-fashioned patriotism  all served up with a side of Southern accent.

Or as The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel put it, “It’s like the Axl Rose lyrics in ‘One in a Million’ came to life and ran for office.”

Understandably, the man in front of the camera, candidate Dale Peterson, has been getting most of the attention. However, Peterson was classy and gracious enough to plug “the little guy” on Glenn Beck’s radio show the other day (see below). And it’s more than fair that Ehlinger get credit for making an ad that’s become a phenomenon.

The plainspoken Ehlinger, a libertarian, isn’t shy about blasting a conservative establishment that’s forever bemoaning the liberal stranglehold on the culture while failing to support artists like him:

“I sincerely believe the reason why conservatives lost in such a dramatic way to Obama,” Ehlinger explains, “and why they lost the congressional elections with Mark Foley, is because they pretty much gave up on art.”

Ehlinger suggests that most artists—and most people, really—are libertarians, but simply don’t know it yet. But the way he sees it, “libertarians are just crippled when it comes to marketing.”

“What people see is men with beards going on and on about the gold standard, and it’s boring,” he quips.