The funny thing about I.O.U.S.A.—a documentary about the history of the national debt, the size and scope of the current national debt, the bankrolling of this debt by foreign countries, the dimensions of the U.S. trade deficit, the foreclosure crisis, etc.—is that it's premised on the assertion that no one (not the media, not average Americans) is thinking about/talking about/paying attention to the economy. With reference to the presidential election, one of the experts in I.O.U.S.A. opines, "The most important issue in this campaign is Iraq, but I think that [the economy] is the most important issue." Hearing that now, when newspapers are daily publishing ski-jump-shaped charts about this or that economic trend, makes you long for, like, six months ago, when the producers of this movie thought they were going to have to fight for your attention.
In this sense, the movie is right on time—a polished, information-rich, not-dreary, often funny primer (there are clips from Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report) on America's financial structure and the dire straits we've been steered into. (You know, before the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the $82 billion bailout of AIG, the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, the additional $140 billion in spending attached to the Wall Street bailout...) I.O.U.S.A. is perfect for anyone who'd like a little help understanding philosophically where the fuck we went wrong and who's to blame (George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush don't look so good). It also has a side helping of interesting, useless facts. The one year in American history when we were entirely free of national debt? 1835.