Raleigh, N.C. — The ad starts out with short segments from MSNBC's "Hardball," CNN's "Crossfire" and other shows where the hosts and panelists are engaging in overheated rhetoric and, well, something that's supposed to pass as debate.
Then, local lawyer Joe Knott comes on the screen and shakes his head.
"Haven't we seen enough of bad-mannered politicians?" Knott asks. "Civil debate is the bedrock of our politics. I'm Joe Knott. Let's restore America's foundations."
The ad is one of two in which Knott appears on behalf of the The American Foundations Committee, a Super PAC that supported Republican 13th District Congressman George Holding in his 2012 campaign.
Knott declined to be interviewed, but Palmer Sugg, a lawyer who helps run the PAC, said neither ad is related to a potential campaign and, at least for the primary, the PAC was not going to be involved in the election. Wind Change Civility
American Foundations provided videos of both ads but noted that they were not in their final form. The tag line at the end of the drafts sends viewers to the wrong website.
Sugg said the ads, which will run on broadcast locally, as well as on cable television and as pre-roll on social media streaming services, are an appeal for move civility in public discourse.
Pointing to the talking head cable news shows, Sugg said, "They're just screaming at each other."
It's worth noting that ads aired by the PAC during the 2012 election were attacks on Wake County Commissioner Paul Coble, who was running against Holding in the GOP primary.
Super PACs were created by recent court rulings. They may raise and spend unlimited money but may not coordinate with any particular candidate. In this case, American Foundations is campaigning for an idea rather than an individual, according to Sugg.
Sugg said the "lack of civil discourse" in public debate has bothered the PAC's backers. So, he said, the PAC raised some money and produced two ads in hopes that they would spark some conversation.
"It's a campaign about changing the dialogue," Sugg said, adding that the commercials were an invitation for people to have a conversation. Asked what the PAC's next steps might be, Sugg said there were no definitive plans.
A wind change
"Civility," the commercial described above, will be the second ad that American Foundations airs. Its first ad, which begins running this weekend, according to FCC reports, is titled "Wind Change."
It begins with footage of World War II's D-Day invasion and President Franklin Roosevelt's radio address.
"Almighty God, our sons this day have set upon a mighty endeavor," Roosevelt says. The image quickly changes to a painting of President George Washington knelt in prayer.
"Our leaders once led this country in prayer. Then, the wind changed," Knott says, as the picture switches to an image of the Supreme Court building. "School prayers – banned. The D-Day prayer – left off the war memorial. America once had a simple decency that's slipping away. I'm Joe Knott. It's time to restore America's foundations."
Sugg said it is not aimed at pushing any specific piece of legislation or idea, other than the PAC's general appeal for civil discourse.