"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 6 November 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.





In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson ran the now-infamous political TV ad, "Peace, Little Girl," which equated a vote for GOP candidate Barry Goldwater with dropping a nuke on a toddler. Since then, campaign shit-slinging in the nation's living rooms has been as steeped in the American - and presidential - tradition as unprotected anal sex in the Oval Office.

So it all seems a bit tedious when pundits and plebes alike appear on our screens lamenting the use of the incredibly edifying, entertaining, and effective mode of communication known as the negative ad. Let's face it: If the billion dollars spent this campaign season on TV ads were meant for valentines, we'd be voting in February and the ballots would have little pictures of Snoopy on them.

Indeed, if we're to perform any useful surgery on this body politic, we're going to have to get used to seeing a little blood - and while we might wince a little, we applaud those with the guts to make the first cut. But as most connoisseurs of the art know by now, the most scathing ads are the ones kept under both toxic shield and lock-and-key in the vaults of media gurus: ads that see the light of day only at the butt-end of the closest races, silver bullets only a very few candidates have the cojones to fire on the air. These scathode rays are trotted out just over the weekend before an election, and lost amid the tumult of Tuesday breathlessness. They almost never get noticed by the short-attention-span ignoramuses who make careers out of noticing such media hi-jinks.

Until now, that is.

Next ... Bury my wallet at Wounded Knee

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