Will Ferrell, Fred Armisen, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Dana Carvey and Darrell Hammond, the Saturday Night Live actors who have played every American president since Gerald Ford -- save Ronald Reagan -- have teamed up on a web video meant to push Congress across the financial regulatory reform finish line and pass a strong, independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
In the video, the fake presidents approach Obama in a dream as he contemplates the multimillion dollar lobbying campaign banks are waging against the CFPA.
"I've come back from the dead to tell Mr. Reach-Across-The-Aisle here to grow a pair," Reagan says.
Obama seems unpersuaded by the ex-presidents, whose financial deregulation, beginning with Reagan and extending through Clinton and the Bushes, led to the current crisis.
"What you're saying is, I should take on this mess that you all created? Take on the banks and their trillions of dollars?" Obama says. "How's this helpful?"
"It's a bitch. It's a bitch," says Reagan. "But as George Washington once said to John Adams: 'Tag. You're it.'"
"Nothin' wrong with one term, Barack," Ford tells him.
Hollywood isn't generally known for precisely timed or well-defined campaigns aimed at specific legislative language as bills move through Congress. But the clip, directed by Ron Howard and written by Adam McKay and Al Jean, was produced in coordination with Americans for Financial Reform, a major pro-reform coalition based in Washington, and it hits just as Senate negotiators work toward a compromise on the CFPA in the Banking Committee.
The most recent compromise proposal being discussed by Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and two Republicans -- Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama and Bob Corker of Tennessee -- would house the consumer protection agency inside the Federal Reserve and limit its authority.
Senate liberals reacted coolly to the proposal. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) went so far as to say he'd introduce his own version as an amendment on the Senate floor if Dodd doesn't come through with a strong, independent agency.
Banks and Senate Republicans argue that banking regulators must have authority to veto consumer protections created by the CFPA in order to protect the "safety and soundness" of the financial sector. Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), a champion of the CFPA in the House, told HuffPost that he finds it strange that a bank would argue that it could only manage to stay solvent if it was allowed to engage in abusive and deceptive practices. "I don't find that particularly persuasive," he said.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told HuffPost Tuesday the proposal is "crazy." The Fed already has consumer protection authority but has elected not to use it. Frank said that such a proposal would be a non-starter with the House.
"For months, the Big Banks and their army of high priced lobbyists have been swarming Capitol Hill looking to either kill or weaken real reform -- including a strong and independent agency focused on standing up for consumers," said Americans for Financial Reform chief Heather Booth in a statement. "We are thrilled the folks at Funny or Die, and their friends in Hollywood, are joining this fight."
AFR is launching a week of action, encouraging people to call Senate offices and urge them to get behind an independent CFPA, in coordination with the video.
Funny Or Die has move videos that it's cooking up to be released as the regulatory reform fight unfolds.