TIS THE season for negative political ads on television. Saturday Night Live's Al Franken satirized the practice last weekend.
A "Mitt Romney ad" opens with a very unflattering picture of Sen. Ted Kennedy, camera slowly zooming in on Kennedy's face, ending with an extreme close-up of his eyes and nose as the narrator says:
"On October 14th, 1978 Ted Kennedy is seen puking in the parking lot of the U.S. Capitol. On February 8th, 1983 Kennedy relieves himself on the leg of a Georgetown waitress. Three years later Kennedy passes out on the floor of the Senate -- soiling himself in the process. Kennedy. He's a big fat drunk."
A "Kennedy response ad" opens with a picture of Brigham Young. Narrator: "Mormon prophet Brigham Young believed that a man ought to have as many wives as he wants." Young and Romney pictures appear side by side: Narrator continues: "Apparently Mitt Romney agrees. After all, he's a Mormon." Cut to picture of Kennedy with his new wife. Written words appear on screen: "Kennedy. One wife at a time."
Franken then reviewed a "Mike Huffington ad" in the California Senate race that he said runs only on Christian stations. Opening screen: Sen. Diane Feinstein's picture is in left half of screen. Top right of screen is yellow written identification: "Feinstein." Narrator: "Dianne Feinstein is against prayer in schools." Written message appears: "Against School Prayer." Narrator: "And no wonder -- she's a Jew." Written words on screen: "She's A Jew."
Franken then reviewed "the most unprincipled ad." New York Republican gubernatorial candidate George Pataki's. It opens with:
A black and white profile of Mario Cuomo. Narrator: "Mario Cuomo says he's tough on crime. But what Mario Cuomo will not tell you is that in 1968, he was involved in a chain saw massacre." Cut to shot of chain saw being revved up and then swung up into the groin of a man. Cut to Cuomo picture in left half of screen, as chain saw action is repeated on right side.
Narrator: "Cuomo. He's a murderer." Written legend under Governor Cuomo's picture: "Cuomo." And under chain saw: "He's a murderer."
Then Franken says, "Remember, there's still two and a half weeks left in the campaign."