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Although online presidential elections may not happen for a while, the Net is being used for all things presidential. Besides the obvious � candidates’ Web sites, media outlets, and the like — two sites in particular stand above the crowd. A favorite pastime of presidential election observers has always been campaign television commercials, and one site has got your fix of these 30-second entrees into a candidate’s commercial persona. The Astoria, NY-based American Museum of the Moving Image ( www.ammi.org) is hosting an online exhibition called “The Living Room Candidate.” It’s a comprehensive compilation of every presidential campaign commerical since 1952. “It’s too bad a guy has to rely on a gimmick like television to get elected,” Richard Nixon told Roger Ailes, a producer on The Mike Douglas Show, before a taping of the program in 1968. Ailes responded, “Television is no gimmick, and nobody will ever be elected to major office again without presenting themselves well on it.” The first televised presidential campaign commercials appeared in 1952. In the years since, they have played an increasingly powerful role in the business of electing a president. This online exhibition contains 183 television commercials from every presidential election from 1952 to 1996. Ads may be accessed chronologically by election years, by themes (family man, attack ads, among a host of others) that illustrate recurrent political issues and advertising strategies, or by highlights — one outstanding commercial from each election year. Another site that tackles this year’s elections by the bullhorns is opensecrets.org, an in-depth guide to political contributions. This site is created by the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C., a non-partisan, non-profit research group that tracks money in politics, and its effect on elections and public policy. From the site’s homepage, users can type in the name of any politician and find out where his or her political contributions are coming from. Users can also track specific industries (commerical banks, casinos, to name a few) and view where their funds are directed. Even though online voting has not yet become mainstream, politics and the Web are already making strange bedfellows.

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