Singing Government's Praises.

Over at her other home, Nancy Scola hips us to the results of the General Service Administration's video contest, which challenged Americans to create a video explaining the tsunami of awesomeness that is USA.gov. The site is GSA's portal into a range of government services. I know, I know -- you've been following this like a hawk. But in case you missed it, the winner was Peter Sullivan of Nashville, TN, who created this little ditty:

Not bad! For his efforts, Sullivan won $2,500 and the thanks of a grateful nation. When I watched it, I couldn't help but think of the contest MoveOn.org put on back in 2004, called "Bush in 30 Seconds," for which thousands of people submitted ads, some incredibly professional and creative, about how awful George W. Bush was. The spirit here couldn't be further from that contest, which happened during an angry election season. And let's be frank -- the General Services Administration, which does things like oversee federal properties, is not exactly the sexiest of government agencies. There weren't nearly as many entries into this contest (30, actually).

One of the things Barack Obama was supposed to bring with that hopey-changey stuff was a new feeling about government. People were supposed to see it as something they could participate in, shape, and maybe even believe in -- as opposed to just something to shake their fists at. It may not have been transformed as quickly as people hoped, and there will always be ways the government can improve how it's involving the public. But folks like Peter Sullivan show us that a genuine (and endearingly goofy) civic spirit is out there, if you know how to harness it.

-- Paul Waldman

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