“You’re a liberal sissy.”

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 10, 2004

“You’re a right-wing nutjob.”

“You’re a pinko commie.”

“You’re dumb as a doorknob.”

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ROTFL, as they say in NetLingo. America and a good chunk of the world are Rolling on the Floor Laughing at an online cartoon featuring George W. Bush and John Kerry trading inane partisan insults at each other to the tune of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”

If you, Dear Reader, are not among the more than 5 million people who by one count have seen “This Land” thus far, check it out at http://jibjab.com/thisland.html or http://atomfilms.shockwave.com/af/content/this_land_af.

For one thing, “This Land” is truly hilarious, the kind of funny that literally makes you laugh out loud, even if you are alone in front of your computer. Reading the verses here doesn’t do it justice.

You have to see Bush’s cluelessly manic smile when he sings “I’m a great crusader/You’re a Herman Munster” as Kerry’s face morphs into a Frankenstein-monster-like visage. Or Kerry’s smarmily superior smirk as he scribbles inscrutable mathematical formulas on a blackboard, then puts a dunce cap on Bush while singing, “I’m an intellectual/You’re a stupid ——-.” Or (my favorite) a cameo appearance by Bill Clinton, hugging a babe in a bikini until Hillary shows up and slaps him, to which he responds in a perfectly pitched Clinton voice, “Wh-what’d I do?”

Yet it’s not just the funny stuff that has made it the biggest thing on the Internet this summer. Brothers Gregg and Evan Spiridellis hit a nerve that needed hitting.

This country is in the run-up to the most important election of our lifetime, the first since the Civil War in which Americans face the threat of imminent war on our national soil. Yet all that our politicians and pundits can produce is bumper-sticker slogans that simplify tremendously complex geopolitical issues.

Kerry going on about his Purple Hearts, as if that qualified him to be president. Bushies throwing around the L-word, as if it were that simple to pin the label on Kerry. Rush Limbaugh denouncing the United Nations, as if the United States could do without its support. Michael Moore demanding the immediate pullout of American troops from Iraq, as if that was going to fix everything. Everything seems polarized. Left or right, red state or blue state, and everybody else is wrong.

But now two unknowns have captured the national imagination with a short animated film that makes fun of all the extremes, all the empty sloganeering. “This Land” parodies with parity — it makes fun of the inanities favored by both sides.

Maybe the wild enthusiasm about the film says Americans are not as polarized as our politicians, and not as blindly partisan as the Rush Limbaughs, Sean Hannitys, Janeane Garofalos and Michael Moores would have us be. Maybe this land is ready for the radical middle that the Spiridellis brothers have shown us with so much good humor in “This Land.”

Roger Hernandez is a syndicated columnist and writer-in-residence at New Jersey Institute of Technology.

(c) 2004 King Features Synd., Inc.