The video: In a new video promoting this week's Democratic National Convention, President Obama dials up an old friend. "I'm counting on you," the president says seriously, as cinematic music builds behind him. "Everybody is. We have to get this right. So there's a lot at stake here. Just remember that I'm trusting you on this." Only then is the person on the other side of the conversation revealed: Kal Penn, a prominent Obama supporter, ex-White House aide, and star of the Harold & Kumar stoner comedy movie franchise. Viewers see Penn lounging in front of a TV, half-eaten pizza in the foreground, as a catatonic Harold & Kumar co-star John Cho munches chips beside him. (Watch the video below.) "Dude, who was that?" Cho says. "It sounded intense." Penn answers nonchalantly: "The president." The Democratic video then goes on to offer details of the livestream of President Obama's Thursday night convention speech — a web event that Penn will host.
The reaction: Well, it looks like "President Obama hasn't given up on the stoner vote," says Margaret Hartmann at New York, "despite their notoriously low turnout rates." It's funny, says Tony Lee at Breitbart: Obama's days as a youthful pothead are well documented, but that contrasts dramatically with what some liberals see as his administration's tough stance on drugs. Considering that, Harold & Kumar may not be enough to save him with disenchanted young voters. I'm not even sure this is a play for the stoner vote, says Louis Peitzman at Gawker. But even if it is, Penn hosting the livestream — even in character as Kumar — wouldn't be any worse than what transpired onstage at the Republican National Convention in Tampa last week. "A really baked Kal Penn would still be more coherent than Clint Eastwood." Take a look: