Dairyland ad is dirty politics

  • Article by: JILL BURCUM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 28, 2011 - 7:48 PM
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Morgan Freeman and Jim Carrey in "Bruce Almighty"

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The latest attack ad on Wisconsin state Senate candidate Shelly Moore instantly prompts this question: How'd they get actor Morgan Freeman to do the voiceover?

The reality is that it's not Freeman, whose authoritative voice made him a logical choice to play God in the hit film "Bruce Almighty" a few years back. Instead, the slippery group funding the ad found somebody who sounds just like Freeman.

Whoever the impersonator is, he's a popular choice for political ads. An attack ad that ran against current Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's opponent and ads for GOP candidates elsewhere have also featured the fake Freeman.

Freeman's publicist said this week that the actor didn't do the voiceovers, which makes sense.

Freeman is not highly involved with politics, although he did endorse Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election and has done narration for some environmental groups. It didn't add up that he'd go after Moore on taxes.

Calls to the organization behind the ad weren't immediately returned Thursday. The website for Citizens for a Strong America doesn't list its funding sources.

One credible organization, SourceWatch, alleges that Citizens for a Strong America has ties to billionaire libertarian David Koch, who has called for abolishing Social Security and legalizing prostitution, among other things.

The respected Politifact.com fact-checked a previous ad the group ran in a Wisconsin Supreme Court campaign earlier this year and gave it the worst possible rating -- "Pants on Fire" -- on its Truth-O-Meter.

The group's latest effort is nothing less than a fake celebrity endorsement of Moore's opponent, Republican Sheila Harsdorf, in the recall election taking place just across the border. And it comes on the heels of the news that the state GOP enlisted fake Democrats to run in primary contests.

The strategy: to give the real Republican candidates more time to prepare and raise funds.

It's dirty politics -- times two. And strategically, in this race at least, the below-the-belt tricks weren't needed. Whoever dug up the footage showing Moore as a wild-eyed union activist ("We. Breathe. Union.") might well have scuttled the Democrat's chances.

The fake Freeman kerfuffle shifts the spotlight back to Harsdorf and her party. They didn't pay for the ad, but they're tainted nonetheless.

Jill Burcum is a Star Tribune editorial writer.

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