Democratic Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) of North Carolina’s 14th District is running for his fifth term unopposed. However his campaign is damaged by the revelation of his affair with one of his supporters, when Cam accidentally leaves a sexually explicit voice message on a local family’s phone.
Corrupt businessmen, brothers Glen (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd), use this opportunity to convince Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), tourism director for the town of Hammond and son of one of their associates, Raymond Huggins (Brian Cox), to run against Cam on the Republican ticket, as part of a plan to profit from illegal dealings with Chinese companies. Cam at first underestimates Marty and humiliates him by playing a video biography highlighting Marty’s dim-witted nature. The Motch brothers then hire Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) to be Marty’s campaign manager. Tim reinvents Marty as a successful entrepreneur and family man. Marty’s popularity rises due to his effective campaign while Cam’s is further damaged when he accidentally punches a baby when intending to hit Marty. Cam later runs a campaign portraying Marty as an Al Qaeda terrorist, and Marty exposes Cam as a fake Christian by asking him to recite the Lord’s Prayer, which he fails to do. Cam attempts to restore his religious image by visiting a church of snake handlers, but he gets bitten by a snake. A video of the bite is leaked into the Internet and goes viral, increasing Cam’s popularity