No One Likes a Whiny Billionaire

The Koch brothers should learn to take a joke. Attacking comedian Zach Galifianakis is a no-win proposition for the GOP sugar daddies, says Paul Begala.

Mark Lennihan / AP; JB Lacroix / WireImage-Getty Images; Bo Rader / Wichita Eagle-MCT via Getty Images

Charles and David Koch, the controversial billionaires who are bankrolling pretty much every right-wing cause in America, may have finally met their match: Zach Galifianakis.

Galifianakis stars, along with Will Ferrell, in the new comedy The Campaign. Judging from the trailer, it seems screamingly funny—and with stars like Galifianakis and Ferrell, who have given us characters ranging from Anchorman Ron Burgundy to The Hangover's Alan Garner—it is an almost certain hit. But now the Koch Brothers have given the film a major push, by attacking Galifianakis.

If I may pause for a moment and directly address the Koch brothers: Boys: Chuckles, Davey, you don't attack a comedian. You should've called me. I would have told you that you can't win. (See Stewart, Jon, on Crossfire. Oh wait, you can't. Crossfire was canceled—because Jon Stewart killed it.)

So apparently this movie is about a congressman who runs afoul of two moneybag brothers, played by John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd. The brothers in the movie are named the Motch brothers. I have not seen the movie, but I'm guessing the Motch brothers are the biggest boobs to hit the silver screen since Pam Anderson (and I say that with love, Pam.)

Because he's not a politician, Galifianakis committed the sin of candor, telling the New York Daily News it's "pretty obvious" that the Motch brothers are based on Charles and David Koch. "I disagree with everything they do," Galifianakis told the Daily News. "They are creepy and there is no way around that. It's not freedom what they are doing."

Perhaps the Koch brothers, who spend hundreds of millions on politics, are too tone-deaf to listen to their political consultants—or perhaps their consultants are yes-men and -women who dare not challenge their patrons. In either case, the Kochs fell into the trap. They attacked Galifianakis.

Of course, as a liberal I agree with Galifianakis's assessment of the Kochs. But even the most right-wing conservative should know not to pick a fight with a beloved comedian—especially when you're a disputatious billionaire hated by half the country.

These are tough times, Lord knows, and we could use a good laugh. Global warming (helped in part, no doubt, by Koch Industries) has scorched farmland across America, and driven city dwellers and suburbanites to seek refuge in the multiplex. It's not enough that the Koch brothers want to destroy our planet and take away our health care, now they don't even want us to chuckle at a movie if it happens to be at their expense.

The Koch brothers seem to want to live in a world in which the EPA can't regulate polluters, the tax man only hits the poor and even comedians must kiss their, umm, ring.

"It's laughable to take political guidance or moral instruction from a guy who makes obscene gestures with a monkey on a bus in Bangkok," said Philip Ellender, a flack for the Kochs. No, Phil—may I call you Phil?—it is laughable to take a paycheck for making your bosses even more hated. Hell, I could do that for free. The proper P.R. advice to the Kochs was to shut up. No one likes a whiny billionaire. Besides, one of the basic rules of life is when a character in a movie makes it look like a monkey is performing an obscene act, that's comedy. When a couple of billionaire polluters try to commit obscene acts on America, that's tragedy.

If you've seen Hangover II, you know that Alan cannot control the monkey. Which means the monkey is smarter than at least two billionaires.