October 8, 2004 5:58 AM PDT

New JibJab film roasts 'DC' bedfellows

John Edwards in a bikini brief? Dick Cheney making an obscene gesture? The political satirists at JibJab are at it again.

The short film "Good to be in DC!" debuted Thursday night on NBC's late-night mainstay, "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Shortly after that, both JibJab and its partner, Atom Films, made the flash animation piece available for viewing and download on their Web sites. By midmorning Friday, however, heightened traffic made it difficult to reach the JibJab site.

In the new piece, which puts an obvious spin on the term "political bedfellows," JibJab co-founders Gregg and Evan Spiridellis again poke fun at President Bush and his rival for the Oval Office, Sen. John Kerry, as well as vice presidential candidates Cheney and Edwards. Other prominent people lampooned in the musical film include President Clinton, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, filmmaker Michael Moore and beleaguered CBS anchorman Dan Rather.

The latest film sets its madcap lyrics to the melody of the folk song "Dixie" and celebrates, among other things, "oil funds, ketchup, cute buns." With a running length of just over a minute, it still makes room for a fair amount of sexual innuendo.

Over the summer, JibJab elicited a tidal wave of Web traffic--and critical acclaim--for a political satire that featured cartoon versions of Bush and Kerry singing about their differences to the tune of folk singer Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land." A subsequent copyright battle between JibJab and a company that claims ownership of the music was settled in the filmmakers' favor.

The success of "This Land" put JibJab squarely on the political comedy map, as the site garnered more than 10.4 million unique hits during July alone. By comparison, Internet statistician ComScore Networks said roughly 3.3 million Americans visited the Kerry-Edwards and Bush-Cheney sites in July.

While JibJab had satirized previous elections, including the 2000 Bush-Gore battle, "This Land" far surpassed the Spiridellis brothers' expectations.

The "This Land" satire has been viewed more than 50 million times, outpacing the average TV viewership of the Democratic National Convention (20.6 million) and the Republican National Convention (22.6 million), according to the Nielsen ratings.

"The Internet allowed us to reach a worldwide audience without a middleman, and that's an incredibly powerful thing for creators," Gregg Spiridellis said in e-mail to CNET News.com. "Before 'This Land,' we couldn't have dreamed of a 'Tonight Show' debut."

The filmmaker said he hopes that all of JibJab's spoofs will encourage Americans to vote on Nov. 2.

 

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