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Dinesh D’Souza’s 2000 Mules Is a Hilarious Mockumentary

A tour de force exploring the limits of how many suckers there are willing to pay for fantasy.
May 17, 2022
Dinesh D’Souza’s <i>2000 Mules</i> Is a Hilarious Mockumentary
Dinesh D'Souza (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)

Dinesh D’Souza’s 2000 Mules is Plandemic for election truthers. For the non-insane, it’s a hilarious mockumentary. Not that D’Souza cares what the non-insane think: He has discovered that there are enough suckers out there to keep him laughing all the way to the bank.

Released by the Salem Media Group, 2000 Mules aspires to be a work of serious investigative reporting which will rock the foundations of American democracy. In reality, 2000 Mules is an investigative documentary in roughly the same way Reno 911 was a hard-hitting look at real-life police work. Though that doesn’t mean that D’Souza’s cash-grab won’t further pollute the political system. For instance, Kari Lake, who can’t wait to get elected governor of Arizona so she can jail her political opponents, is championing the film—which ends with a plea for law enforcement to take up D’Souza’s cause.

Here’s the elevator pitch for 2000 Mules: D’Souza’s buddies at True the Vote spent $2 million on cellphone geotracking data—which he describes as “digital DNA”—that they say proves “mules” were paid to illegally “traffick” thousands of ballots from non-profit “stash houses” into drop-off ballot boxes.

All D’Souza really has—if the cellphone data is real and is really what he represents it as being—is some evidence that some people made frequent trips in areas around ballot drop-off boxes which, by design, were usually placed in heavily-traveled areas for convenience. Putting that aside, who are these mules? Who paid them? Where is the evidence of people making repeated trips to illegally stuff drop-boxes with ballots? What non-profits were involved? These questions are not even asked, let alone answered, in the movie. The theory of the case relies almost entirely on digital maps with dots and squiggles, supposedly demonstrating the questionable movement of the “mules.” Boom-Diggity. All that’s left is for the FBI to take it from here. Or something.

2000 Mules doesn’t survive the most basic fact-checks to support its most important claims. See them here, here, here, and here. But, let’s stipulate that the film’s purpose isn’t really to present facts. Because if it were true that D’Souza had rock-solid evidence of widespread voter fraud in his possession, would a true patriot like him be selling that evidence for $29.99 per download? Bwahahaha. (In defense of D’Souza, that $29.99 was only the premium VOD price. This week he dropped it to $19.99 to buy or just $14.99 to rent. Or you can get the movie free by purchasing an annual subscription to his Rumble channel!)

It’s better to view the film as a performance piece, a comedic triumph where the joke is on the rubes gullible enough to give D’Souza their money.

Some quick backstory: The people behind True the Vote—Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips–have been unsuccessfully hunting the Loch Ness Monster of voter fraud for many years. After the 2016 election, Phillips claimed he “verified” that more than 3 million votes were illegally cast by “non-citizens.” Piggybacking on Phillips, Trump launched a “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” to pursue this and other claims. Chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the commission ultimately found no evidence of widespread voter fraud and disbanded without ever producing a report. (Since producing such a report would contradict Trump’s kooky allies.)

After the 2020 election, True the Vote sought $7 million to chase down new voter fraud stories and shop them to GOP consultants in hopes of getting some courtroom or member of Congress to take them seriously. But even in the cluster that was the Kraken #StopTheSteal show, they had no takers. It was such a disaster that one of True the Vote’s biggest donors, who gifted the organization $2.5 million, took the group to court to get his money back, citing their failed efforts.

All of which goes to say that True the Vote’s tall tales are too dumb even for its biggest supporters to go along with anymore. D’Souza, however, is happy to scrape up the bullshit and repackage it for the direct-to-consumer market.

Some of the film’s funniest moments come when D’Souza summons his fellow Salem Media Group talkers—Dennis Prager, Eric Metaxas, Seb Gorka, and Charlie Kirk—for a meeting of the minds to discuss their thoughts about election fraud before and after viewing D’Souza’s movie.

The “before” meeting amounts to an assortment of pronouncements about how none of these very fine people believe that Biden won. They cite the massive turnout in the election, GOP success down-ballot, Trump’s ability to draw large crowds, and apparent popularity in the face of withering media coverage.

Kirk offers that “millions of Americans know something went wrong, and they have little pieces, and no one’s really put it together.” Prager, somewhat of an outlier in the group, says he wants someone to “show me the proof” of fraud. Which sets the stage for D’Souza to helpfully put the pieces together.

The movie draws heavy suspicions about people who dropped off ballots early in the morning, wore gloves to drop off ballots, and took photos of drop boxes. All this is drummed up as proof of nefarious activity captured on surveillance video. Coupled with the True the Vote’s geotracking data, the viewer is led to believe these were the “mules” making repeat trips to unnamed non-profit offices to collect ballots and “traffick” them to drop boxes. One problem: They have no video showing these individuals making repeat trips to said non-profits or drop locations, or evidence they were paid to do so. Also, one of the so-called “mules” presented in the film has already been investigated by Georgia officials and no evidence of wrongdoing was found.

No matter. Engelbrecht and Phillips make their presentation to the group and the guys jump on the clips accordingly. What Salem wants, Salem gets.

Questioning why someone would drop off ballots late at night or early in the morning is a common refrain, even though drop boxes were implemented precisely so voters could drop off their ballots any time they chose. For this, these unnamed individuals are depicted as dangerous people. Phillips described them as “not grandma out walking her dog.” They have “bad backgrounds, bad reputations, we’ve had encounters with several who are not terribly positive.”

“Violent guys?” D’Souza asked.

“Can be,” Phillips replied. “They are interested in one thing, that’s money.”

But even the Salem hosts seem wise to the game and acknowledge that D’Souza hasn’t, and won’t be able to prove anything. Gorka sums it up with this non sequitur: “It’s the perfect crime because it cannot be curated after it’s committed.”

Kirk says: “I don’t think we will ever know the full story and what makes this crime so compelling and unique is that once the ballot enters the system it’s really hard to reverse engineer it. But when you have the cell phone geolocation data and then the actual footage . . . it explains the sudden spike of Biden support that we saw late at night.”

At this point, all that’s left is for law enforcement to intervene. “There’s an easy way to bust it,” D’Souza says. “Law enforcement has to step in . . . go interview the mules. Who paid you? Where did you get the money?”

Which satisfies Prager enough to bellow:

“They have ruined election day in the United States of America. That’s provable, and that is enough for me to fight the left with every fiber in my body!” This counts as a conversion. But, considering the fact Prager is someone who also believes the “left is destroying Western civilization,” it’s not like he needed any pretext from D’Souza to declare total war on the Democrats. That’s just a regular day at the office for the old man.

The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro reviewed 2000 Mules and said, “my problem with the documentary” is that “there are dots that need filling in.” He said:

You can question all the ballot harvesting; you can take for granted that all the geolocation data that they’re using is actually true . . . that does not mean all those ballots are illegal votes. . . . . What you need is actual evidence of people going to multiple drop boxes that isn’t just the cell phone data moving past the drop boxes. . . I guess what I would say is an answer that’s gonna make nobody happy. I think that the data is really interesting. I think that it’s really suspicious for sure, I don’t think it’s just positive that this alone shifted the election . . . I think the conclusion of the film is not justified by the premises of the film itself. There are a bunch of dots that need to be connected. Maybe they will be connected, but they haven’t been connected in the film.

But I suspect that D’Souza is delighted with even the critical reviews. A hate watch is still a watch. All the people talking and writing about 2000 Mules means more relevance and more downloads and more income. Despite being released only on “non-cancelable” platforms, D’Souza says the film has grossed $10 million.

What burns D’Souza are the people who won’t give him attention—especially those at Fox News and Newsmax. And why shouldn’t he be? The movie’s storyline, complete with a brown menace subplot, is tailor-made for their audiences. At one point in the film, a woman, who keeps her identity hidden, says she worked as a “mule” in Yuma County, Arizona, on behalf of an organization that collected ballots from Hispanic people who were unable for various reasons to get to the polls. “Most of the Hispanics that live in the town are not well educated as far as the law . . . I call it the Mexican mafia, seriously because they work like that.”

How could Fox and Newsmax resist this premium content? Probably because the executives at these infotainment companies are wary of fighting another round of lawsuits for pushing bogus election claims. Dinesh D’Souza is judgment proof. Fox and Newsmax aren’t.

Donald Trump is mad about the Fox blackout, too. He gave the film a glitzy premiere at Mar-a-Lago, and still, no love from Tucker Carlson. Waaaah.

“Fox News is no longer Fox News,” Trump posted on his Truth Social account. “They won’t even show or discuss the greatest & most impactful documentary of our time, ‘2000 Mules.’ The Radical Left Democrats are thrilled – They don’t want the TRUTH to get out.”

In a way, the pairing of 2000 Mules and Truth Social is perfect: A pretend social media company doing PR for a fake documentary, with both siphoning off dollars from gullible superfans.

It would be funny if these people weren’t also the past and possible future of the United States government.

Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter is an author, a former communications director to Sen. Ted Cruz, and a former speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint. She was formerly a Bulwark political columnist.