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The Obama Brand: Feel Good While Overlords Loot the Treasury and Launch Imperial Wars

Brand Obama makes us hopeful. We like our president and we believe he's like us. But we're being duped into doing a lot of things that are not in our interest.

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American Idol, a talent-search reality show that airs on Fox, is one of the most popular shows on American television. The show travels to different American cities in a "countrywide search" for the contestants who will continue to the final competition in Hollywood. The producers of the show introduced a new focus, in the 2008-2009 season, on the personal stories of the contestants.

During the Utah auditions, we meet Megan Corkrey, age twenty-three, the single mother of a toddler. She has long, dirty-blond hair and a wholesome, pretty face. A tattoo sleeve covers her right arm from the shoulder to below the elbow. She wears a black, grey, and white dress reminiscent of the 1950s, and ballet flats. She is a font designer.

In an interview Corkrey says, "I am a mother. He will be two in December." We see Corkrey with a little blond boy, reading a book together on a beanbag chair. Breezy guitar music plays. "His name is Ryder." We see Corkrey kissing Ryder and putting him to bed. "I recently decided to get a divorce, which is new." The guitar music turns pensive. "The life I had planned for us, the life I'd pictured, wasn't going to happen. I cried a lot for a while. I don't think I stopped crying. And Ryder, of course, you can be crying, and then he walks by, and does something ridiculous, and you can't help but smile and laugh." We see Corkrey laughing with her son on the floor. "And a little piece kind of heals up a little bit."

The montage of Corkrey's life fills the screen as the rock ballad swells. "I can laugh at myself, while the tears roll down ..." sings the band. We see Corkrey and her son looking out a window. She holds her son up to a basketball hoop as he clutches a blue ball.

"It was kind of crazy, I found out Idol was coming to Salt Lake, and I'd just decided on the divorce, and for the first time in my life it was a crossroads where ANYTHING can happen! So why not go for what I love to do?"

Corkrey enters the audition room. The judges -- Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and Kara DioGuardi -- are seated behind a long table in front of a window. They all have large red tumblers with "Coca-Cola" printed on them. They seem charmed by her exuberant presence. She sings "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" from Show Boat. Her performance is charismatic and quirky. She improvises freely and assuredly with the rhythms and notes of the song, beaming the whole time.

"I really like you," says Abdul. "I'm bordering on loving you. I think I'm loving you. Yeah, I do. Simon?"

"One of my favorite auditions," Cowell says in a monotone.

"Yes!" grins Corkrey.

"Because you're different," continues Cowell, sternly. "You are one of the few I'm going to remember. I like you, I like your voice, I mean, seriously good voice. I loved it."

"You're an interesting girl. You have a glow about you, you have an incredible face," says DioGuardi.

The judges vote.

"Absolutely yes," says Cowell.

"Love you," says Abdul.

"Yes!" says DioGuardi.

"One hundred percent maybe," smiles Jackson.

"You're goin' to Hollywood!" cheers DioGuardi as the inspirational rock music swells.

"YES! Thank you, guys!" Corkrey screams with delight. She runs out of the audition room into a crowd of her cheering friends. The music plays as she dances down the street waving her large yellow ticket, the symbol of her success.

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