updated 10/4/2007 12:41:35 PM ET 2007-10-04T16:41:35

A group trying to combat childhood obesity has launched a TV ad spoofing Idaho Sen. Larry Craig's toe-tapping in an airport men's room.

The ad, created by the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, targets senators who support subsidies for high-fat foods, such as bacon and burgers, that make their way to school-lunch programs.

The ad features a man in a bathroom stall tapping his foot, signaling that he is ready to receive political contributions from the pork industry. Wads of cash are then passed under the stall.

"In turn, Congress buys up millions of dollars of these products and dumps them on our schools," an announcer says. "Companies get rich. Kids get fat. Is your senator on the gravy train?"

A spokeswoman for the physician's group said the ad tries to use humor to make a serious point: Campaign contributions from large agricultural interests influence senators as they consider a new farm bill that offers billions in subsidies to producers of sugar, meat, dairy and feed crops. The physicians' group, which advocates a vegan diet, wants to spend more money on fruits and vegetables.

"The real scandal in Washington is the farm bill," said Dr. Neal Barnard, the group's president.

Political action committees representing agribusiness have given more than $5 million over the past four election cycles to members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics.

Jeanne Stuart McVey, a spokeswoman for the physician's group, said the ad is running on cable stations in five cities this week: Columbia, S.C.; Louisville, Ky.; Little Rock, Ark.; Denver; and Boise, Idaho.

All five states have senators who serve on the Senate Agriculture panel, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

The group has budgeted $50,000 for the ads, which have already run in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Minneapolis, McVey said. Atlanta was targeted because Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the senior Republican on the agriculture panel, received the most agribusiness contributions — $805,359 — between 2000 and 2006. Minneapolis was chosen because that is where Craig was arrested.

Craig, a Republican in his third term, pleaded guilty in August to disorderly conduct following a June 11 sting operation in a men's room at the Minneapolis airport. He initially said he planned to resign Sept. 30 but now says he will stay in office at least until a judge rules on his bid to withdraw his guilty plea.

McVey acknowledged that some may find the ad offensive but said the intent is to be funny — not cruel.

"Of course everyone knows about the Larry Craig saga — and vivid imagery is associated with that. We think it's a humorous way to get across a serious message," she said.

A spokesman for Craig declined to comment.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments