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Published: Thursday, 10/12/2006

In Montgomery ad, staged scenes show 'opponent'

Justices played by actors scold Betty Montgomery's attorney- general opponent, Marc Dann, who is also played by an actor. Justices played by actors scold Betty Montgomery's attorney- general opponent, Marc Dann, who is also played by an actor.
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Each Thursday preceding the Nov. 7 election, Blade politics writer Jim Tankersley and WTVG's Bill Hormann team up to analyze candidates' campaign ads and check them for accuracy.

The ad: Attorney general candidate Betty Montgomery, a Republican.

The target: Her opponent, Democratic state Sen. Marc Dann.

The claims: That an ethics reprimand and his defense-attorney history make Mr. Dann unqualified to be attorney general.

Fact check: One thing is irrefutable: In a fall of very, very, very serious political ads - raise your hand if you get the impression the fate of America's economy and security hinges on Ohio's U.S. Senate race - this spot breaks the mold and draws some laughs.

It also raises the question of how far it's fair to lead voters with staged images.

The ad opens with a doctor taking a plunger to a patient on an operating table. It goes on to show an extremely obese man leading an aerobics class from a chair. "Some people just aren't qualified for the job," a narrator says. "Like Marc Dann."

The narrator's proof? Mr. Dann has defended child molesters and was reprimanded by the Ohio Supreme Court. Both are true. (Mr. Dann says he defended accused child molesters rarely. The reprimand, which Mr. Dann has apologized for, concerned his conduct in a spousal support case.)

But the ad goes further. It shows an actor who bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Dann sitting at a table, in court, with a tattooed prisoner - and a panel of robed justices scolding the same Dann-like actor as he shakes his head.

The scenes are fake. But some viewers might mistakenly think they're seeing actual footage of Mr. Dann with a child-molester pal or under fire from the state Supreme Court.

Of course, some folks might think they're watching a real doctor with a plunger too.

- Jim Tankersley



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