Via email, Jane Mitakides, congressional candidate for Ohio's 3rd district, has just invited me to "Cocktails and Conversation" with special guest Jerry Springer.

Now, I spent a fair amount of time with the infamous Mr. Springer--on the phone and in person--when he was toying with a congressional run of his own a few years back. When it comes to politics, he's a nice, serious, and surprisingly earnest guy.

But we are also talking about the godfather of trash tv. Arguably no name--not Paris, Britney, or even Lindsay--says "debased culture" quite like Jerry Springer. The man has a comic opera named after him for god sake. 

So I'm wondering: Celebrity value notwithstanding, is it really wise for any Democrat to publicize Springer as a political compatriot? It's risky business in an average year, considering Republicans' penchant for painting Dems as out-of-touch-with-mainstream-America, Hollywood-star-huggers. In a year where John McCain is cutting tacky commercials trying to link Barack Obama with Paris Hilton, the strategy seems even more fraught. 

Can't you just see the attack ads now, pics of Mitakides arm-in-arm with Springer, intercut with footage from Springer's show featuring fisticuffs between white-trash pedophilic meth dealers?  

--Michelle Cottle