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Viral Political Campaign Ads of 2010: The Best of the Worst

Viral Ads
This year hosted one of the most contentious and spiteful election seasons in recent memory. Thankfully, the vitriol, propaganda and rumor-mongering generated at least one beneficial byproduct: awesomely ridiculous campaign ads. Various spots took the Web by storm, as candidates relied on jingoism, ingrained Southern stereotypes, 'Dracula' and demon sheep to convey their important messages of hope, freedom and the American way. Given the sheer abundance of viral political excrement in 2010, picking a "Best" or "Worst" proves nearly impossible. But, with at least three worthy candidates to the state's name, this has certainly been the year of the Bama-meme. (Or, perhaps, the Alabameme?) So, while you may not have actually won your respective elections, Tim and Dale, you left an indelible mark upon the Web and its snarky, sarcastic denizens. God Bless America, and the Internet, of course.


Bama (Tim James, Dale Peterson, GOP party):

Alabama wins 2010's campaign ad battle in a landslide, although the candidates involved all lost their respective elections. And, the viral "win" doesn't exactly reflect well on the state. Ads for Tim James ("We speak English") and a gun-toting Dale Peterson ("I'll name names, and take no prisoners") reinforced the stereotype of Southerners as defiant, ethnocentric isolationists. Another ad criticizing Bradley Byrne ("He supported teaching evolution") seemed eerily reminiscent of the William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow days. Thankfully for residents of the Yellowhammer State, Antoine Dodson's heroic stand against the 'Bed Intruder' helped overshadow the painfully embarrassing election season.

Chuck Grassley, 'Twitter'

Politicians frequently, and in hilarious fashion, demonstrate a complete ignorance of modern technology. Iowan Chuck Grassley's ad attempts to overcome this history of "tubes," "Internets" and "website numbers" when he vows that, "I'll tweet, I'll text, I'll do whatever it takes." Another Grassley comment about "having a Twitter" doesn't help dispel the notion of out-of-touch politicians, but at least his spot makes a valiant (and, smear-free) effort. Unlike many of the candidates who produced these bits of viral gold, Grassley actually won his race.

Carly Fiorina, 'Demon Sheep' and 'Hot Air: the Movie'

California's Carly Fiorina almost singlehandedly upstaged Alabama with her deranged and disturbing campaign ads. The 'Demon Sheep' spot features a "wolf in sheep's clothing" character, but the outfit looks ridiculously similar to the goat-headed P.A.G.A.N. garb from the classic '87 film 'Dragnet.' Fiorina's other offering, the 'Hot Air' ad, may possess some value as a steampunk satire, but -- as a political campaign ad -- it serves as a colossal failure. Fiorina's overall campaign efforts fared similarly, as she lost to Barbara Boxer.

John McCain, 'A Special Message from J.D. Hayworth'

The McCain team apparently drew inspiration from 'Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!' when producing this absolutely staggering ad. The spot manages to incorporate 'Dracula,' Obama's birth certificate, "the grave threat of man-horse marriage" and 'Mars Attacks!' in order to convey some type of message. Though clouded by the overwhelming assault of disjointed insults, we're guessing that he was saying something along the lines of "Hayworth sucks."

Christine O'Donnell, 'I Am Not a Witch.'

Delaware's O'Donnell catapulted onto the political scene in 2010, and her unprecedented stream of absurdly astounding sound bites will resonate for years. Throughout the course of her campaign, O'Donnell castigated scary scientists and demonstrated a shameful lack of Constitutional knowledge. But, her "I Am Not a Witch" piece of advertising brilliance, which seems more akin to a classic parody from the vaults of Saturday Night Live, transcends mere campaign drivel. O'Donnell, like so many other viral candidates, lost her election by a wide margin.


Renee Ellmers, 'Victory Mosque'

Ellmers' ad (which employs a healthy dose of good, old-fashioned fear-mongering) attempts to capitalize on the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" debate. Words can't adequately describe the hateful message of bigotry (abhorrent, and xenophobic propaganda come to mind), but -- somehow -- Ellmers will soon join the U.S. House of Representatives. Hopefully, someone will inform her that Islam does not equal terrorism.


Alan Grayson, 'Taliban Dan'


Florida's Grayson, like Ellmers, took the Islamic low-road when he released a spot that lambasts opponent Daniel "Taliban Dan" Webster. Based on a few isolated comments, the ad characterizes Webster as a misogynist who is intent on relegating women to a subservient societal role. The glaring problem, though, is that the ad blatantly misrepresents Webster's statements, which were taken completely out of context. Voters apparently saw through the duplicity, though, because Grayson lost his re-election bid.

Diane Benson, 'Experience' and Mike Gravel, 'The Rock'

These timeless ads actually first appeared in 2008. However, Benson's 2010 bid for the Alaska Lt. Governor's position -- with running mate Ethan Berkowitz -- thrust the incredible advertisements (which share unspoken similarities) back into the spotlight. The Benson ad demonstrates the candidate's "experience" with a shot of the candidate cleaning up pieces of dog doo. Instead of the poop shot, though, Benson probably should have included footage of helicopter hunting (or, in all seriousness, her war hero son), because she and Berkowitz lost in a landslide. And, although it's almost three minutes long, Gravel's ad never grows old, either. The hard, unflinching stare, and the uncomfortable sound of silence continue to entertain.

John Hickenlooper, 'Shower'

Hickenlooper's ad may not have experienced the viral success of some of the other 2010 offerings, but it certainly abides as a refreshing and redemptive political narrative. The ad provides a simple and self-explanatory message, and it definitely helps wash away the taint of a particularly spiteful election season. And, in a clear message to all the haters and muck-rakers, the victorious Hickenlooper will serve as the next Governor of Colorado.

Basil Marceaux

Marceaux may have lost his bid for Governor of Tennessee, but the memories of his exceptional campaign will undoubtedly endure. While this wasn't his first ramble down the campaign trail, Marceaux's most recent series of ads and public appearances ensured the candidate Internet immortality. Hopefully, the man (who apparently owns an unusual "not guilty by reason of insanity" case-record) will run again, because the world will certainly seem less "free-er" without him.

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