Al, George and Sex in the City. I just don't get it

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The Independent US

Who would vote based on a star's recommendation? I don't have a clue who won the presidential election - the polls are still open as this column is being written. But though I did my civic duty and voted, a sense of disappointment lingers. I feel left out of the democratic process; disregarded, even snubbed.

Who would vote based on a star's recommendation? I don't have a clue who won the presidential election - the polls are still open as this column is being written. But though I did my civic duty and voted, a sense of disappointment lingers. I feel left out of the democratic process; disregarded, even snubbed.

Sarah Jessica Parker never once phoned my house to ask me to vote for Al Gore.

Ms Parker is a glamorous young actress who stars in a highly rated television show called Sex and the City. The people running Mr Gore's campaign thought it would be cool if she recorded a "personal'' phone message on behalf of the Vice-president.

So through the miracle of automated dialling, Ms Parker's silky endorsement was relayed by telephone to thousands of potential voters.

But not to me - and I've left my answering machine on since the conventions. I need all the help I can get when trying to choose the leader of the free world. Input from Sarah Jessica, or any member of the Screen Actors' Guild, would have been most welcome.

This year's campaign became very confusing, especially when the candidates got to arguing about what do with the budget surplus. Their maths lost me.

To assist muddled voters in Florida, George W Bush recruited well-known figures to record special phone messages. I didn't get any, not from his brother Jeb; not from retired general Norman Schwarzkopf, not even from Butch Davis, the University of Miami football coach.

Some people might wonder what kind of a dimwit would vote for a presidential candidate on the recommendation of a college football coach. That's exactly the sort of elitist attitude that keeps the country divided. Dimwits, too, are entitled to vote.

Even Ralph Nader, the "clean" Green Party candidate, recognised the motivational value of celebrity outreach. The esteemed, Oscar-winning film actress, Susan Sarandon, taped a phone message that went out nationwide to potential "Nader Raiders". I didn't get that call, either.

The strategy of courting show-business support is nothing new to politics, and many celebrities are keen to use their fame to promote the candidates they like.

Who can forget the surreal moment during the 1972 race when Sammy Davis Jr hopped on stage and seized a cringing Richard Nixon in a joyful bear hug? If nothing else, that helped the Republicans carry Las Vegas.

This year, Martin Sheen, an actor who plays the president of the United States on television, stumped enthusiastically for Mr Gore. So did rocker Jon Bon Jovi.

If you were one of the millions of befuddled, undecided voters, it might have made the difference to know that your favourite actor or singer supported the Vice-president. Heck, it's better than flipping a coin.

George W Bush had in his corner the one and only Bo Derek, a bunch of country singers and a wrestler known as The Rock. There was a time in this great country's history when the political views of professional wrestlers were seldom solicited, or taken seriously. Those days are gone.

While our Founding Fathers envisioned a more-perfect republic, shaped by an attentive, informed electorate, they couldn't possibly have foreseen the ascent of pop celebrity as a cult - and its grip on the national consciousness.

The Florida-based novelist Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for 'The Miami Herald'

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