The bizarre web of politics

Women splashing their faces with mini-John McCains.

A 4-foot-tall cross-dressing Chilean Hillary Clinton impersonator grooving to the sound of Hillary Duff.

Topless Barack Obama sharing the beach with a bikini-clad model.

This is the future — actually the present — of American politics.

It seems campaigns posting policy speeches and manufacturing textbook ads weren’t enough to keep most of us entertained on the Internet.

So, welcome to the strange world of YouTube politics, where ordinary people — depending on your definition of “ordinary” — produce music videos and spoofs of the presidential candidates, and find themselves thrust from the seclusion of their computer rooms to national stardom.

Take “Raining McCains,” a video by the McCain Girls. The trio managed to put a new twist on the 1982 classic “It’s Raining Men.”

“Get ready, you lonely girls, and leave those Democrats at home,” they advise as they prance around in a storm of little Johnnies.

Reaction? “This better be a joke … or this country should be split in half between normal people and idiots,” reads one of the thousands of comments on the video.

Meanwhile, the Democrats seem to be attracting even stranger online attention.

There’s the Obama Girl — a/k/a Amber Lee Ettinger — who gained national notoriety for her video “I’ve Got a Crush on Obama.” After Ettinger was nominated for best political video of the year by YouTube viewers, a spate of sequels and copycats followed.

And often it’s hard to tell if the oddly entertaining videos — not sanctioned by the campaigns — are for or against a candidate.

A group called Detroit Octane thinks Barack is “Simply irresistible” — or, in its remake of the 1988 Robert Palmer tune, “Obama-sistible.” There’s even a behind-the-scene video on the making of the song.

The line “went to Harvard-sistible” was particularly meaningful to the band because it wanted to “drive home that that’s a pivotal moment in his life.”

If you’re not worn out after that, then check out “La Pequena Hillary Clinton” — or “The Small One.” It’s a video by a Chilean impersonator, a mini-Hillary, if you will.

And if you can figure out the real gender of the star, you’re smarter than others. People who commented on the video seemed pretty confused over whether La Pequena — who gets down to a Hillary Duff song — is a man or a woman.

If that weren’t enough, a group called the Clintons has penned a song specifically for the New York senator. In the YouTube video, lead singer John McLellan tells her: “Hey Hill, if you ever dump Bill, come date me.”


“Strong women turn me on,” he explains in the song. “It’s sexy when a woman knows exactly what she wants. You’re that girl.”

But men aren’t the only ones lusting for Clinton.

Brace yourself for “Hott 4 Hill” by Taryn Southern. In the music video, a mockery of “I’ve Got a Crush on Obama,” Southern pleads with viewers to “put a hot chick in the White House.”

“I can’t stay still until I see Hill up on Capitol Hill,” she insists.

But spoof or not, even Southern couldn’t lighten up some Web viewers. The comment section on her video has spun into a discussion about who’s more sincere on NAFTA — Clinton or Obama.

Those who make the best videos have found themselves on CNN, MSNBC and even The New York Times’ political blog.

“It’s marking a new dawn in American politics,” said Fred Solop, a political scientist at Northern Arizona University. “It’s unfiltered, and it brings emotion and passion into the process. We can be swayed much more easily by the power of images.”

But it’s also not all fun and games. The power of YouTube has allowed voters to hear the comments made by Obama’s pastor with their own ears, and in the primary election, look back at statements made by Mitt Romney before he ran for president.

The campaigns, Solop said, already are responding, hiring Web advisers and staffs to monitor what’s being posted about their candidates and their opponents.

And the creative videos by average Americans are something the campaigns will need to learn from and compete with if they want the attention of voters, Solop said.

It’s like what one blogger on the La Pequena video said: “Thank God for YouTube! I find so much more interesting content here than on TV.”

(Contact reporter Daniel Scarpinato at dscarpinato(at)