The odd political ad featuring Herman Cain’s chief of staff Mark Block smoking a cigarette while Tea Party anthem “I Am America” plays in the background had political journalists scratching their heads this week.
And it caught on outside politics too, spawning a mocking Twitter feed and no fewer than four parodies on late-night TV shows.
The Cain campaign released the unorthodox ad Monday night on YouTube and the video quickly transformed into a viral sensation, so much so that the Twitter account @FakeMarkBlock was set up just after the video premiered with the bio: “Herman Cain COS. Smoker. Post modern genius.”
Several late night hosts jumped on the opportunity to make a parody of Cain’s ad, including Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien and David Letterman. Jay Leno did not mock the ad as he was joined by President Obama on Tuesday night.
Each of their spoofs has a similar punch line, featuring miscellaneous Cain staffers partaking various absurd activities. Conan O’Brien presented two alternate versions of the ad, replacing Block with an anonymous Cain supporter who drinks tequila and smokes a bong.
David Letterman’s ad parody was similar to O’Brien’s, showing another Cain staffer in Block’s place eating a large bowl of spaghetti.
Colbert’s spoofs replaced Block’s cigarette break with a man drinking from a whiskey bottle, a woman huffing paint and Cain’s “accountant” pretending to shoot himself in the head. Colbert also poked fun at Cain’s slow-motion smile at the end of the video and challenged Cain to a “slow-smile contest,” all while holding a cigarette in his hand.
Jimmy Kimmel took a different approach, adding a voiceover once the ad cuts to Herman Cain smiling at the camera in front of venetian blinds: “I’m Herman Cain and I approve cigarettes. And if that doesn’t make me sound crazy, check out this smile. Yeah, 9-9-9.”
For weightier late-night fare, take a look at Brian Ross’s “Nightline” expose on electric cars.