Most overexposed celebrities on the campaign trail

Categories: News
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Kevin Costner in the not exactly beloved film Swing Vote.

Kevin Costner made campaign-oriented appearances in Colorado yesterday, and he’s still at it today, leading an Obama march on the CU campus in Boulder. And he’s not alone; as a swing state (can you remember the more innocent, commercial-free time when Colorado used to want to matter more in national politics?), Colorado has seen its share of celebrities stumping for each candidate. This appeal to fame isn’t new, of course -- it’s a foundation of advertising strategy. We don’t believe that Michael Jordan is an underwear expert, but we buy Hanes in part because he’s their spokesperson. It’s transitive, and celebrity political stumping is part of that same game. But the game gets old, as games will (see: Monopoly after about an hour). So here are ten very active celebrity participants who really ought to cool it a little. Maybe go star in something, sing a song, host a show, whatever it is you do that makes you think we want to listen to them.

Democrats

Oprah Winfrey

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Just ask any author of any book -- well, except maybe James Frey -- and he or she will tell you that an endorsement from Oprah means a lot. For them, sales and fame. For a political candidate, votes... or at least attention. This is what Oprah gave to Obama last year when she came out of the political closet on her show and endorsed the senator from Illinois. Some claim that her endorsement made a significant difference in his defeat of the presumed Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, or that she lent Obama some political legitimacy that he’d up to that point been lacking to a lesser or greater degree, depending. She’s done a relatively good job staying out of the process since then, but there’s no denying the Oprah effect. When she talks, even E.F. Hutton is envious of how many people listen.

Bruce Springsteen

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You, sir, are not the Boss of my vote. Still, Bruce has that everyman quality that belies his wealth, his power, and his influence. And Springsteen doesn’t stump for candidates so much as he loans himself (and his band) out for fund-raising concerts. Maybe he’s still trying to make up for the fact that "Born in the USA" was sort of co-opted by Ronald Reagan.

Kal Penn

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Seriously dude... you were Kumar in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. Stoner film cred might do well for you on a pot legalization initiative, but not so much for advocating the President of the United States. Now, Neil Patrick Harris might have some influence, because that guy? Awesome.

Matt Damon

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The guy is surprisingly well-spoken for an actor, but he’s also responsible for the ubiquitous YouTube video where he makes the statement that having hockey mom Sarah Palin rise to the presidency is like the plot of a "bad Disney movie." Please, Matt... give neither the voters nor Disney any ideas.

Eva Longoria Parker

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She started out a Hillary supporter and made the jump to Obama when the writing was on the wall. Like Penn, she was in Denver earlier this month for a voter drive on the Auraria campus, and she traveled up to Greeley and down to the Springs for rallies there. Problem is, Longoria sort of made her name as a Desperate bitch, and honestly, we have plenty of those in the current political arena, thanks.

Republicans

Chuck Norris

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Chuck’s first foray into this year’s political race was being front and center with Mike Huckabee, smiling that Chuck Norris smile. Once the Republican nominee was decided, though, he showed his support for McCain too, even though he’d spent a lot of time before the cameras earlier saying repeatedly that McCain was just too old to effectively run or manage the country. However, Chuck Norris is amazing in so many other ways (Chuck Norris doesn’t sleep; he waits; when the boogeyman goes to sleep at night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris; when Chuck Norris enters a body of water, he doesn’t get wet; the water gets Chuck Norris) that it’s not hard to believe that getting away with obvious contradiction must be one of them.

Wilford Brimley

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"Wilford Brimley is our answer to Chuck Norris," John McCain said back in the primaries. And that was a joke -- or as close as John McCain gets to a joke these days. But Brimley still heaves himself up out of that chair from which he makes all those commercials about diabetes supplies long enough to stump for the McCain campaign. Really, though: Is it a good idea to have one old guy wheezing on about how great this other old guy will be as president?

Hank Williams Jr.

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The venerable country singer has long been a friend to the Republican party, so it wasn’t surprising when he changed the lyrics of his song "Family Tradition" to honor McCain/Palin. "John and Sarah tell ya just what they think," the new verse goes, "and they’re not gonna blink." The irony of anyone claiming that McCain doesn’t blink aside, it’s also sort of odd that he’d choose a song about the bad habits that run down through generations as a positive thing for the current Republican ticket.

John Elway

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Denver’s own conservative celeb, Elway seems to turn up at any major conservative function in the state anymore. As good as it is to see him, his football-math may be a little off. He claimed just last week that if the presidential race was a football game, McCain would only need a field goal to win it. Which is probably true if you were playing some weird variant of football where field goals were worth eleven points instead of points.

Elizabeth Hasselbeck

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She’s definitely for McCain, but based on this last week, she's more obviously for Palin than anyone. Which is sort of weird considering that Palin is being said by some to be mavericking her way right off the party-approved script, if not the platform as a whole. As Hasselbeck’s short tenure in entertainment sort of matches Palin’s short career in national politics, could we hear more of this team in four years? Palin/Hasselbeck, 2012, anyone? -- Teague Bohlen

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