Sarah Palin II: Bachmann Boogaloo

A sequel, almost by definition, must accomplish two fundamentally conflicting tasks: It must be like the original, but it must simultaneously differentiate itself from the original. Generally, that second task is accomplished through the prodigious addition of extra. Extra explosions. Extra deception. Extra hilarious poop jokes. Whatever the original had, just add extra.

In America, a place where we like things to be shiny and new but not too new because new things are scary, we love sequels — after all, America itself is basically the sequel to Europe. Hence, presumably, our collective adoration of Michele Bachmann, who is the sequel to Sarah Palin: Where Palin loved the Jesus, Bachmann loves the Jesus extra. Where Palin hated the gays, Bachmann hates the gays extra. Consider: Bachmann hates the gays so much, she once proposed a law banning gay marriage in her home state of Minnesota, where gay marriage was already banned (the sequel ban). That was before she was caught hiding, for reasons even she may not comprehend, in the bushes at a gay-rights rally — so, again, she's crazy like Sarah Palin, but extra. At any rate, because Bachmann is not even a politician so much as the sequel of another politician, let us say that she is the quintessentially American politician.

However American she may be, though, Tom Petty would rather she not use his "American Girl" at campaign rallies. After one such offense on the perversely early campaign trail in Iowa last week, Petty shot off a cease-and-desist letter, protesting, as musicians often do, that he in no way endorses her politically.

Now, there's some complicated legality to this issue. Though it's been going on since the days when Ronald Reagan got taken to task for using (and radically misinterpreting) Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA," the question of whether or not politicians are allowed to appropriate songs for campaign rallies has not actually ever made it to court. Generally, the artist fires off a cease-and-desist, and that's it.

In Bachmann's case, that may not be enough. The day after Petty asked her to stop, Bachmann went ahead and played thirty seconds of "American Girl" at another rally, transitioning from there into "Walking on Sunshine," by Katrina and the Waves, who then also issued a cease-and-desist. (Good luck with that, Katrina and the Waves. Also, good luck with your career or whatever.)

In the meantime, with his polite request trollishly defied and not much legal footing to stand on, it would seem that Petty has only one avenue of recourse: obviously, write a sequel to "American Girl," one so feverishly and excessively American that it could literally fight wars and disenfranchise minorities, one so extra that, like a Michael Bay flick, to witness it would simultaneously fill you with fighting spirit and crushing ennui. Indeed: If there is one man capable of writing a song so American it could cause temporary blindness and uncontrollable diarrhea, that man is Tom Petty.

Bachmann, of course, would have no choice but to pick it up — and like the ominous object from the sequel to the original movie about the ominous object, it would prove her demise. Extra demise.

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