Leading article: Baking and biscuits

Another US presidential race, another cookie bake-off and, sure as eggs are eggs, a new charge of recipe-theft.

Cindy McCain is the latest accused. Her recipe for oatmeal-butterscotch cookies, the kitchen-sleuths say, is not of her own devising, but lifted from the venerable confectionary company, Hershey's. Of such indignities are American election defeats made.

The last person to be accused of cookie-plagiarism was Mrs John Kerry. Laura Bush, as you might imagine, was cookie-baker supreme, winning hands-down any contest that came her way. She chose that old stand-by, the chocolate chip, negotiating the slender channel between plagiarism and originality with the same assurance that her husband cuts the brushwood on their Texas estate. Michelle Obama offered her godmother's shortbread, but she had better watch out. Along with zest of orange and lemon, her cookies require a dash of Amaretto.

Already in difficulties for controversial remarks during the nomination campaign, she sought a new, softer, image yesterday, as a guest presenter on daytime television. Then it will be back to the cookies. To which we say: is there no limit to the ingenuity that can be applied to the humble cookie? And do these accomplished women not have more useful things to do?

Hillary Clinton had it right when she told a non-plussed interviewer that she could have stayed home and baked cookies but chose instead to pursue her profession. If only she had stuck to her non-baking principles, she could have saved her wannabe successors a great deal of trouble.

For rolling comment on the US election visit: independent.co.uk/campaign08

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