The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'Naked Gun's' David Zucker has a laugh at Barbara Boxer's expense

October 26, 2010 |  5:15 pm

In a Senate hearing long ago and far away -- actually last year -- California's Barbara Boxer made the mistake of admonishing Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh of the Army Corps of Engineers for calling her "ma'am" instead of "senator," saying, "I worked hard for that title." In years past, the senator's remark would be little more than a passing blooper. But not in today's macaca era, when every public misstep can come back to haunt you. Especially when you're locked in a tight reelection race.

Normally, Boxer's flub would be great material for "The Daily Show," but this time around, she's getting cuffed by David Zucker, a key part of the filmmaking team behind "Naked Gun" and "Airplane." Now an ardent conservative, Zucker has directed an ad that spoofs Boxer's snippy response, using a satirist's favorite weapon -- comic exagerration -- to hoist Boxer with her own petard. I'm a liberal, but hey, funny is funny. The two-minute spot plays like a great outtake from one of the "Naked Gun" movies, lampooning Boxer's initial response by having every character in the clip demand to be addressed by their proper title, including a Boy Scout who, when Boxer addresses him as scout, insists on being called "Eagle Scout."  

Like all good satire, the clip works because it feeds off of its victim's weak point. Boxer often comes off in public as a prickly Washington insider, making it easier for Zucker to caricature her cranky personality -- just as untold hundreds of alert satirist made fun of Bill Clinton for his oversized appetites and George W. Bush for his intellectual shortcomings. For showbiz insiders, it's fun to see Ed Ames in a hilarious cameo as an Indian chief, reprising his role as Mingo from the 1960s-era "Daniel Boone" TV series. Clint Howard also costars in the ad as one of Boxer's colleagues. Howard has become a prominent Hollywood conservative, which must make for interesting dinner-table conversation at Howard family get-togethers, since his brother, Ron, has been a liberal activist in recent years.   

You can watch the clip right here: