The Harry and Louise show

The fictional couple who appeared in anti-Clinton ads are now in a new campaign.

Topics: Advertising, Healthcare Reform, Al Gore, Health,

Harry and Louise are back.
That fictional typical America couple credited — or blamed, depending on your point of view — with scuttling the 1994 Clinton health plan are back with new commercials.

Harry and Louise could be anyone’s middle-aged next-door neighbors, the Ozzie and Harriet of the ’90s. Harry has glasses and a receding hairline. Louise has windswept dark blond hair. And they have comforting voices that ooze concern.

This time, instead of trying to derail a national health-reform plan,
they’re promoting health insurance coverage for the more than 44 million uninsured Americans. Not only are the actors the same in these commercials, so is the group that’s bankrolling the campaign.

The Health Insurance Association of America spent $17 million on its battle to convince America that passage of the Clinton health plan would be devastating. They said people would lose their choice of doctors, that insurance would become so expensive employers would drop it. And on it went. Now the trade association for many of the nation’s health insurance companies is spending an initial $1 million on its “InsureUSA” campaign.

The commercials are still set around Harry and Louise’s kitchen table. There’s still a cup of coffee on the table. But there’s something new. Harry and Louise are now poring over a laptop computer. And they’re talking about e-mailing instead of writing to politicians.

As word spread through the nation’s capital that this fictional couple was back, health-policy wonks and lobbyists howled. And then they talked about the irony of the health insurance industry’s seeming turnaround.

“I guess they’re trying to salve their conscience,” said John Rother,
senior lobbyist for the American Association of Retired Persons and one of the key architects of the effort to get Clinton’s plan enacted. “It is surprising that they would use the very same people that are identified with the negative, with killing health reform, to argue for expanded insurance.”

Not so, says Richard Coorsh, chief spokesman for HIAA. Coorsh says HIAA has always been for universal health coverage; it was
just Clinton’s ideas that the industry did not like. The ads started running Wednesday and will be on CNN through Jan. 30. They will run in the nation’s major newspapers, including
the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Of course, the motives behind this plan are not strictly altruistic.
The more people with health insurance, the more business for HIAA’s 290 member companies. The HIAA plan basically builds on the current employer-based health insurance system, and includes tax provisions allowing individuals to deduct 100 percent of health insurance premiums, and special provisions for small employers with low-wage workers.

And there are government subsidies for the poor. Anyone earning up to 100 percent of the federal poverty limit who
doesn’t have health insurance would be eligible for government
coverage, similar to the plans now provided by the State Health
Insurance Program. For the so-called working poor, those earning between 100 and 200 percent of the poverty limit, vouchers worth about $2,000 a year — about 75 percent of the health premiums — would be available. The plan would cost $50 billion a year.

During Clinton’s health-reform effort, the HIAA was pretty much aligned with the Republicans, and a former Republican congressman was its president. Now a former Capitol Hill health staffer, Chip Kahn, is the group’s president. But that’s where any Republican connection stops.

HIAA’s plan sounds remarkably like the one being hawked by former Sen. Bill Bradley. It goes even further than the one Vice President Al Gore has suggested. And so far nothing like it has been suggested by any of the GOP hopefuls.

The ad campaign is timed both to the presidential campaign season, the president’s State of the Union address next week and next week’s return of Congress. “We think this is the most important domestic policy issue,” said Coorsh.

If the past is any indication, this first $1 million media buy will not be the last for the HIAA in this campaign. When asked what’s planned next Coorsh would only say, “Stay tuned.”

Dena Bunis is Washington bureau chief of the Orange County Register.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>