Call it the Great Cookie Crisis of '08. The New York Daily News has a piece revealing that Cindy "McCain's recipe for oatmeal-butterscotch cookies, published on the Family Circle Web site earlier in the month, appears to be an almost exact replica of a Hershey’s recipe." Oh my God! This wouldn't be so outrageous if not for the fact that Cindy was accused in April of trying to pass off a Food Network recipe as hers. Has the woman no shame?

But wait! There's more!  Cindy's oatmeal-butterscotch recipe was submitted as part of the quadrennial aspiring First-Lady bakeoff held by the magazine. And, as the WaPo's Reliable Source notes today, Bill Clinton seems to have entered a "borrowed" recipe as well--in his case from Betty Crocker. 

So what does this tell us about the state of the union--or at least of the presidential race? It tells us that it's time to stop treating the candidates' spouses as embarrassing stereotypes by making them jump through absurd hoops that, let's face it, even many hard-care, full-time stay-at-home mommies would be hard pressed to handle. I mean, who has time these days to bake homemade cookies--not just from scratch--but from some carefully crafted recipe that these spouses either dreamed up themselves or inherited from their Great Aunt Beullah? 

Yeah. Yeah. It's all very cute and humanizing and domestic--or it would be if it weren't such complete and utter b.s. Honestly, looking at Cindy McCain, does anyone believe the woman has tasted a baked good in 30 years? And, with his heart condition, offering Bill a cookie is like handing him a steaming cup of rat poison.

Surely we can come up with, if not a less ridiculous, at least a more honest or relevant way for these spouses to prostrate themselves for our amusement: Secrets for reducing the stress level of your overworked spouse. How to keep from gaining weight when you're surrounded by junk food. (Tip: Avoid homemade cookies.) How to keep the romance in a long-distance relationship. (OK. Maybe that's a minefield to avoid for some of these folks.) How to serenely answer the same question for the 400th time. (Useful both for full-time moms and anyone who works in retail!) The possibilities are endless.

--Michelle Cottle