What follows are our annual awards recognizing excellence in political TV advertising, the Bozos.
The Family Values Award -- Back in '94, George Nethercutt exploited his golden retriever, famously saying, "I'd never kick my dog!" The throwaway line was such a hit, it sent the Speaker of the House to early retirement. This time, Nethercutt's daughter gets the screen time, calling Patty Murray a liar. Like father, like daughter.
The Unwanted Camera Award -- Anyone watching a grainy Patty Murray talk about Osama bin Laden's popularity in the Middle East has gotta cringe. Sure, she was trying to be reasonable, but didn't she get the memo? Osama is evil. Period. End of story.
The Deadbeat Dad Award -- "I'm Chris Gregoire. I never really knew my father." That was the first thing many people learned about Gregoire in the run-up to the primary election. In a major tactical error, her opponent Ron Sims failed to one-up her, but sources say the TV ad was produced: "I'm Ron Sims, and I was raised by wolves."
The Boomerang Award -- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce not only produced and paid for a particularly nasty attack ad against Washington State Attorney General candidate Deborah Senn that aired in the final days of the primary campaign, but they also kept quiet about backing it. Powered by sympathy, Senn won the primary. If she wins the office, in the future Republicans might tell the U.S. Chamber thanks, but no thanks.
The Freebie Award -- Remember the swift boat veterans ad from this summer? You'd be surprised to know it never even aired in Washington state. But it was replayed so many times in the cable "news" world that everyone in the nation saw it. If you're a Machiavelli in the making, here's the lesson: The more error-ridden your ad, the better. Talking heads will continue to play the really messed up ones over and over again.
The Little Guy Award -- The ads flooding local airwaves courtesy of the Republican Party take Don Barbieri to task for having the gall -- the sheer lack of shame -- for cutting business deals in which he made a profit. That capitalist pig. Naturally, the contents of these ads have been proven to be factually challenged, but the shocking part was how smoothly the GOP morphed itself into the party of the downtrodden. When you need to slap the greedy hand of corporate America, now we know who to look to: the Republicans, of course! Is this a weird election year or what?