GOP's Pledge to America has lots of new ideas, or does it?

On The Daily Show Thursday, comedian Jon Stewart examines the Pledge to America and experiences déjà vu.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R) of Ohio, holds up a copy of the GOP agenda, "A Pledge to America", on Thursday at a lumber yard in Sterling, Va. From left are: House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Va., Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, (R) of Washington, Boehner, and Rep. Mike Pence (R) of Indiana.

Let's hit rewind for a moment.

It's after the decimating 2008 elections, Republicans are licking their wounds and picking out shrapnel out after losing the Presidency, House, and Senate in one fell swoop. Real Clear Politics described as a "Democratic takeover – which it was.

And understandably, it was time for some self reflection. Republicans decided that the way forward was going to be all about new ideas, new faces, new leadership. The GOP was going "to be the party of new ideas."

"Ah, spitballing here: How about, 'We got a black guy too?' Just spitballing here!" comedian Jon Stewart helpfully added to the GOP "new ideas" list.

Nearly two years later, after the requisite town hall meetings, speaking to constituents, and starting a website with the "crucial midterm elections around the corner and House Republicans poised for the real chance to win huge, so they're ready to unveil the fruits of their labor," Stewart said.

Enter the Pledge to America on Thursday.

Here's the highlight list, so generously provided by Stewart's "Postcards from the Pledge":

  • Honor our families
  • Don't spend more than you take in
  • Stop out of control spending
  • Support our troops, fight the terrorists, stand by our friends, and protect our citizens.

"Whoa! Who are these fresh-faced young guns and their bold new ideas? Wait a minute that's the same <expletive> we've heard before!" Stewart said. "Your fresh new ideas sound slightly like - I'm sorry did I say slightly - exactly like your old ideas!"

Stewart then proceeded to play clips from Republican politicians from 1994 to today. Pretty close to verbatim promises and "ideas" from the Pledge to America and past speeches are played one after another.

The most telling gotcha? Stewart juxtaposes a clip from House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R) of Ohio from Wednesday's press conference and a clip from March 1998 where he literally says the same exact thing, calling for:

"A smaller, less costly, and more accountable government in our nation's capitol."

Well, we'll grant that the GOP message is consistent. But Stewart was aghast.

"I don't even know what to say! This isn't even like a sequel, its like a shot-by-shot remake!"

Stewart wasn't the only one to draw this conclusion. Washington Post, staff writer Perry Bacon Jr. compares the Pledge to America with the GOP's 1994 "Contract With America."

How it is similar to the "Contract With America": As in 1994, Republicans are proposing a variety of ideas to reform how Congress works. Just as they did then, they want to make sure that most committee meetings are open, and they want to reduce how much Congress spends on its own operations.

How it differs: Republicans in 1994 proposed term limits (12 years for members of Congress), an idea they have abandoned. Their ideas to demand that bills be posted online 72 hours before votes and to cite the constitutional authority for them are new.

So it's pretty much a shot-by-shot remake.

And the GOP writes on the website for A Pledge to America, "Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course."

New governing agenda? A different course? That sounds suspiciously like, "Yes, we can change?" Uh-oh.

A perplexed Stewart offered up another Boehner clip.

"The point we make in this preamble to our Pledge, is that we are not going to be any different than what we've been," Boehner said in clip from Thursday.

"And I believe that is a promise you can keep," Stewart responded.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Postcards From the Pledge
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