The legislature in my home state is the second-to-the-last place I’d ever look for humor. (The federal legislature is the last place.) But it turns out to have hosted one of the most elaborate political pranks ever pulled off — a Rick Roll of the entire Oregon House of Representatives, with nobody noticing.
Representative Jefferson Smith organized it last year, with bipartisan support.
Smith wrote the lyrics down and spread them out piecemeal among his colleagues–with the Portland lawmaker himself taking on some of the more difficult lines that others didn’t want to do, including “never gonna say good-bye” and “hurt you.”
In the end, he says, only one fellow legislator–who he won’t identify–“chickened out,” while another lawmaker was filmed saying the Astley lyrics “unwittingly.” The elaborate operation was carried out during a special session of the Oregon legislature in February 2010, when each lawmaker was allotted time to speak on the House floor.
Smith said that it wasn’t too hard to conceal many of the lyrics, but finding a place to hide “ooh” was tricky. I have to admit that watching a professional-looking lawmaker say “Ooh,” with an accompanying hand gesture and a look of guilty amusement, did crack me up.
The initial plan was to debut the video after last year’s elections, but the process of splicing all the words and phrases together was far more time-consuming than Smith and his conspirators originally anticipated. First, they had to file a public records request with the state of Oregon to get a copy of footage from the legislative session. Then, they had to comb through hours and hours of film to find the lyrics lawmakers had snuck into their speeches.
In the end, it took a year and two months to assemble the video–which Smith pointedly notes was carried out “with no taxpayer funds.”
The video was posted on April 1 of this year, and has already gone viral. Now Smith is being approached by other Oregon lawmakers, asking when he’s going to do another one. They want to play, too.
Hat tip to the Daily Dish — and why in the heck was this not covered in my state newspaper?