When it’s actually quite innocuous.
Screenshot: YouTube

As a general rule, vague political advertisements are vague for a reason. Everything is broken and sinking and extremely on fire, but we’re not yet at the level of Shitworld where unpopular and unappealing ideas can effectively be presented as themselves and on their own merits. We are heading in this direction, but we’re not quite at the “let Sen. Mitch McConnell chug your spinal fluid to infuriate the libs” crossroads yet. Policy-wise, we absolutely are. But policies that no one actually wants are still couched in euphemism and obfuscatory language when presented for public consideration—say, standing up for a more growth-oriented distribution of spinal fluid to infuriate the libs, to use this example. Who knows what Mitch even wants with all that spinal fluid. I assume it’s fine.

Anyway, you already know all this. When a political advertisement deals entirely in euphemism, you are almost certainly dealing with some cynical and obvious bullshit that dares not speak its name. But when you see one that isn’t even up to that standard—that is, an ad like this one that Broncos GM John Elway made for a Colorado ballot initiative—you are dealing with something exponentially worse. I defy you to watch this advertisement, in which Elway is identified as “Coloradan” and talks about Jobs and Communities in language so vague as to approach avant-garde poetry, and come out of it knowing anything about the proposition in question beyond the fact that John Elway wants you to vote against it and I guess also that he pronounces “across” as “acrost.”

Given Elway’s past forays into politics, his presence alone suggests that he’s probably advocating for something bad. That the ad itself contains nothing that could even charitably be described as “information” beyond one suspiciously precise figure on Jobs Somehow Destroyed By Proposition 112 does nothing to assuage that suspicion.

And it turns out that the case that Elway and this advertisement can’t quite get around to making is indeed the sort of thing that requires extensive euphemism in order to be made palatable: he wants the oil and gas industry to go on fracking Colorado to hell. Proposition 112 is, in the words of its authors, “a statewide statutory law that would establish common sense buffer zones between fracking and occupied buildings—like homes and schools—and areas of special concern—like playgrounds and drinking water sources.” It’s not even a ban on fracking, just a request that the fracking happen a little farther away from large groups of children and, like, aquifers.

Voting No on the initiative, at the direction of Broncos legend and community-liker John Elway, is voting against the creation of that buffer zone, or more precisely against the expansion of the smaller buffer that already exists in state law. The thing that Elway says will destroy tens of thousands of jobs in Colorado and create a “shockwave” through the state’s economy is the expansion of that buffer from 1,000 ft. to 2,500 ft. John Elway does not wish to alarm you, but he feels compelled to point out that doing so would be so devastating that it would make beardo science teachers literally disappear.

My god just let them frack in the playground.
GIF: YouTube

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According to Ballotpedia, three registered committees have spent nearly $19 million opposing the measure. The most prominent of these, and the organization behind Elway’s ad, is a group called Protect Colorado (or, alternately, Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy, and Energy Independence) which is funded by the state’s largest oil and gas companies. You probably knew that the moment you saw that it was called Protect Colorado, though.