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January 11, 2008

Who's the Sexiest of Them All?

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Not that the presidency has, to this point, been a beacon of rectitude. A photo of perky Donna Rice on the lustful lap of Gary Hart sank his candidacy, while Bill Clinton's escapades with a cigar and a blue dress almost cost him his job. Both, however, were pre-YouTube and pre-"John Edwards Is Sexy" T-shirts being sold on the Web. Now people who refer to themselves as "Obama Girl" and "Giuliani Girl" can perform their candidate-crush smackdown for an audience of millions. Who needs debates?

But YouTube has done no favors for Edwards. Not only did he catch flack for his $400 haircuts, there's the disturbing four-minute video called "Breck Girl," in which the populist with the country drawl pats and perfects his locks before a TV appearance. You would think he'd have notes to go over, a breathing exercise, something.

We live in scary times, where award-winning journalists froth at the mouth for an exclusive sit-down with Paris Hilton, and everyone on TV, on YouTube — even presidential candidates — is that undifferentiated thing: a celebrity. Given what's at stake in this election, maybe it's somehow more palatable to fixate on sex appeal.

If so, after the Iowa caucus, why don't we just cut to the chase and add a swimsuit competition? Hillary could wear a silver bikini and juggle fire sticks while singing the national anthem. Then we'll see if she's got the balls — and the cleavage — to be president.

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