How a fake website ended up threatening a scary candidate

One thing led to another, and before we knew it, the future President was insulting us.

In 1999, while working on, Mike and Andy receive an email from a fellow named Zack Exley, who has had the foresight to register the domain and wants help making a spectacle of it.

The real Bush-for-President campaign website was at Rather than make a whole new website, Andy and Mike simply modify that one to explain in more honest terms the real reasons Bush wants to be President: to help the rich at the expense of the poor and the environment, etc.

But to turn a website into a news story, more than just challenging content was needed: also essential was the active participation of George W. Bush.

The first version incurred Bush's wrath, and his lawyers sent Andy and Mike a threatening letter.

By the time the second version of was published, with much more content, the Bush campaign had complained to the Federal Elections Commission.

Bush's cease-and-desist letter and subsequent F.E.C. complaint spiced up the first press release, which created a wave of publicity — which was then significantly magnified by Bush's televised response to a reporter's question about the site: "There ought to be limits to freedom," Bush said — an ominous gaffe given what followed. (Click here for audio.)

The second press release capitalized on Bush's assistance and helped drive a new, even bigger wave of publicity. The Yes Men also preemptively registered dozens of domains with Network Solutions, the one-stop shop at the time.

The Bush campaign's intimidation tactics raised the eyebrows of several constitutional lawyers, who offered to support in potential copyright and electoral procedure lawsuits, arguing that although there ought indeed to be "limits to freedom," restricting free speech and limiting citizens' access to the political process was not the proper place to draw the line.