Being some of the most subtle, yet effective political commentaries, the source of the ubiquitous meme had to be tracked down by the media.
The media complex in this country loves to drape itself with a veil of objectivity and unbiased delivery of the facts. They claim to be adherents to only the facts, while holding those in power accountable. Yet we see frequently that there are times when simple Americans break through the press narratives with inconvenient messaging. When that occurs we see that the press reacts by holding those common citizens accountable.
After a blue-collar homeowner approached then-2008 Democrat presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama on the campaign trail and managed to tie the politician in a knot with questions, Joe The Plumber became a target of the media. When a GIF of Donald Trump at a WWF event showed CNN’s logo superimposed and the meme went viral, journalists tracked down the individual who created it, pressuring him to take the clip down. Highschooler Nick Sandmann stood stoically and grinned while wearing a MAGA hat, and the press tried ruining his life.
The latest example of the media looking to blunt an effective political message is seen at gas stations. Throughout the country, it has become commonplace for people to feel the sting of spiking gas prices, but that pain is assuaged slightly by the appearance of a small sticker affixed to the front of the gas pump. Variations exist, but mostly the meme is an image of President Biden pointing, with the words ‘I DID THAT’ in bold type, his finger gesturing at the swollen price-per-gallon visible in the window.
These stickers have proliferated across the country and across sales platforms. You can find them for sale on Amazon, at eBay, and Etsy, as well as other outlets, usually with a gross available for under $10. The messaging has been effective enough that Republicans have been inspired to hold voter registration efforts at gas stations. Now, in the face of this grassroots political commentary, the press has once again snapped into action.
At Business Insider, writer Nina Burleigh decided that there was a need to track down the originator of this organic campaign against Joe Biden. (As a sign of where Burleigh’s allegiances rest, she is infamous for proclaiming she would have serviced President Bill Clinton with oral sex because of his pro-abortion stance.)
Here’s how Burleigh sets the table for her quest to root out the original aggressor.
The “I Did That” stickers are perhaps the most ubiquitous and successful piece of political propaganda that the counterculture right has produced in its semi-deranged campaign to blame Biden.
Dutifully, the reporter set out to find the seminal culprit behind this adhesive scourge seen in fuel stations across the map. It would prove to be no easy task, as the ubiquitous labels have been around for some time. Burleigh managed to undercut the preferred media blame for the surging prices on Putin, noting that these octane notices have been around for nearly a year already. “They started appearing on pumps across the country last summer,” she admits.
This makes the archaeological dig for what she calls an, “onslaught of weaponized merch,” all the more difficult. But undeterred, Burleigh began combing through various sales pages, all in the name of pinning down the person who first produced these affixed inflammatory banners.
Who created the “I Did That” stickers, and why? Was it a MAGA truck driver outraged at soaring gas prices? A right-wing operative looking to stoke the flames of conservative discontent? Marjorie Taylor Greene, with a stack of blank stickers and a few hours to kill at a Kinko’s? No one knows. So I set out to locate the source of Sticker Zero.
Nina attempted to pin things down via some early social posts about the stickers, then began contacting numerous retail outlets with questions and probes, but came up empty. Then her intrepid sleuthing paid off – when the creator actually contacted her. Robert “Bobby” Naklicki, president and CEO of Redneck Nation called Burleigh directly with the announcement that he was the original source of the dastardly decals.
According to Naklicki, he produced the very first “I Did That” stickers in May 2021, the same month gas prices hit $3 a gallon. “Our brain trust did that,” he told me. Once his team came up with the idea, they began printing the stickers in Florida by the thousands.
Burleigh went on to speak with Lincoln Project fixture Steve Schmidt, who seemed to be taking time off from his emotional unraveling on Twitter in May. Schmidt delivered his expected, hysterical assessment of the phenomenon; “You have this wild-eyed MAGA movement running loose like a cancer that is taking over a party, and the other party is losing to that insanity.” Thanks, Steve, for that measured and informed analysis. Now, go check in with your therapist.
If Burleigh was of the mind that outing Naklicki will bring an end to this craze, or at the least bring him and his company enough pressure to curtail their campaign, she is mistaken. As has been proven repeatedly in the Biden era, those on the right have a deft hand with this type of organic messaging. When a NASCAR reporter attempted to deflect from fans cursing out the president, the “Let’s Go Brandon” phrase instantly swept the country for months.
In a similar fashion, as the Biden administration attempted to get a rebuke of messaging on Republicans by unleashing the “Ultra-MAGA” tagline, those on the right embraced it instantly. It became a mocking intonation for many, and the impact the White House may have hoped for was never realized.
In fact, Naklicki’s company made a move on that term – they pounced, if you will. “We trademarked ultramaga.com right away.,” he said, calling it “the new ‘deplorables.’”