‘Something to Stand For’ Reclaims Patriotism in the Nick of Time

Mike Rowe spins uniquely American stories to remind us what's easily forgotten

Mike Rowe’s “Something to Stand For” is everything today’s pop culture isn’t.

Sentimental. Patriotic. Sincere. Aspirational.

It takes time to adjust to Rowe’s approach, one targeting heartland values sans apology. Yet even cynics will forgive the corny recreations and bald patriotism for one reason.

Rowe knows a ripping good yarn when he finds one. And even though Rowe declares his apolitical mien in the film no dyed-in-the-wool Leftist will dare watch it until the end.

That’s their loss.

Join me on Independence Day | Mike Rowe Presents: Something to Stand For | Official Movie Trailer

Rowe plays Mike Rowe, former host of “Dirty Jobs” and unofficial chronicler of the American experience.

He’s taken tales from his podcast, “The Way I Heard it,” and brought nine special stories to life. The concept honors radio pioneer Paul Harvey and his signature surprises. The legend’s show, “The Rest of the Story,” set the template Rowe unabashedly duplicates here. He cloaks tales of famous Americans so we don’t know the person in question into the waning seconds.

The gimmick worked for decades under Harvey’s watchful eye. It’s just as engaging with Rowe behind the mic.

Rowe starts each story from behind a desk in an empty theater, setting the stage for the recreations to come. It’s Rowe’s voice we hear through each history snippet, often requiring actors to lip sync his narration.

It’s a wobbly gimmick that fails as much as it succeeds.

The recreations themselves are similarly inconsistent. They’re used to mask some story details, like modern-day settings which give way to century-old events.

As the famous Connect Four commercial says, “Pretty sneaky, Sis.”

Rowe’s screen presence, honed extensively on the small screen, is warm and reassuring. He’s the perfect conduit for these tales, never offering a false note.

Our guide says “Something to Stand For” is meant for all Americans, and that’s not Fake News. Exceptions? If you spent the last few months stomping across college campuses screaming “occupiers” and “intifada.

Still, there’s a brief shout out to lower taxes, a maddening case of FBI-style overreach and praise for the one-percenters.

That can’t be an accident.

One story will tickle sci-fi geeks, while the others are catnip for history nerds. A later story is tricky to its core, but Rowe holds our hand along the way.

In between, Rowe drives around the Nation’s Capitol in his battered Bronco, exploring a slice of Americana that rarely gets a closeup. Put down the cynicism. Shove the snark down so deep you can’t even see it.

It’s OK to salute the flag, to honor our fallen soldiers and tear up at the heroes of yore.


It’s populism on steroids, and the fact that it feels so anathema to our current moment speaks poorly of us, not Rowe and co.

The takeaway is clear. It’s not just inaccurate to deny the sacrifices made to keep America safe and its enduring promise.

It’s wrong.

HiT or Miss: “Something to Stand For” is corny, sincere and unfailing in its American optimism. You’ll feel refreshed after seeing it.


  1. About that Bronco Sport. (It probably has a 302 V8 with Motorcraft 2 bbl carb and a C-6 automatic transmission.)
    1 – It’s hard to start when it’s cold.
    2 – It probably stalls out at stop lights.
    3 – It probably has a rough idle.
    4 – And the fuel mileage has probably dropped.
    All of this is caused by a leaking power valve in the carburetor.
    You can overhaul the carburetor and it will work for awhile but after 6 months of gas with ethanol the carb’s power valve will start leaking again.
    To fix this, overhaul the carb and replace the supplied power valve with a genuine Holley power valve or use a Holley rebuild kit for your Motorcraft or Holley carburetor. Holley has a newer diaphragm in its power valves that resists damage caused by ethanol.
    When the power valve is leaking, all of the gas in the fuel bowl will leak down into the cylinders overnight and the engine will be “flooded” in the morning, The lengthy cranking-before-the-engine-starts indicates that the fuel pump is trying to refill the fuel bowl. If it is hard to start when it’s COLD and starts right up when it’s WARM, then it is certainly the power valve. To verify this while the engine is still COLD, try holding down the gas pedal before you crank the engine over. This will clear out the flooded condition and the engine may start right up.
    Easy starting when it’s warm is because the fuel bowl is still full and the engine is not flooded. It takes a long time (overnight) for all the gas to leak down into the cylinders.
    The rough idle is because the power valve is always open and sending excess gas to the carb’s venturies.
    This also reduces your fuel economy.
    The engine stalling at stop lights is because the rough idle is too low, especially for an automatic transmission. (I can see the shift position indicator is on the steering column for vehicles with an automatic trans.)
    I love those old Broncos but they are too expensive to buy now. The bronze & white ones look the best.
    Also, you’re the best!
    Honest Red
    BTW: Gas with ethanol will also cause the rubber diaphragm in the fuel pump to leak.

      1. Thanks, Christian.
        I’m glad you noticed my effort.
        60 years of turning wrenches has paid off.
        Honest Red

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