Why isn't Martz invited to the Taylor-Bush wedding? 

Radio and television ads on both sides of the Taylor-Baucus senate race have gotten increasingly dirty in the past few weeks. But they’ve also gotten creative. One television ad by Mike Taylor for Senate has invoked an ironic image of incumbent Sen. Max Baucus and President George W. Bush as buddy-buddy. The ad even says, “Max Baucus wants you to believe he and President Bush are headed to the alter” with accompanying images of confetti, New Year’s horns and champagne glasses.

You’ve got to admit it’s funny. Just take a look the Indy’s computer generated image of the happy couple (also available in wallet-size).

The ad continues by saying that it “must be the punch talking” for Baucus to think he’s been endorsed by the president. But what is this “punch” line supposed to mean? Are Taylor’s people insinuating that Baucus is heavy on the sauce? Or maybe he’s just drunk on power? Not the case says Taylor’s Communications Director Bowen Greenwood.

“It’s an allusion to the whole wedding image—alter, wedding, reception, punch,” says Greenwood. “It’s just one of those artistic things.”

Baucus’s campaign offers this official and expected response to the smear.

“This is Mike Taylor’s campaign continuing with their negative ad campaign,” says Baucus Press Secretary Barrett Kaiser. “It shows how desperate Taylor is to get elected.”

The Taylor camp sees nothing wrong with ad and its “creativity.” Meanwhile, Taylor’s chest continues to puff under his lumberjack shirt as he boasts about all the endorsements he’s tallied up from leading Republicans. The ones Taylor is openly touting include Senate Minority Leader Trett Lott, former Montana Governor Marc Racicot, Vice President Dick Cheney, and of course, G.W. himself.

Wait a minute. There’s one leading Republican who’s conspicuously absent from Taylor’s all-star cast: Gov. Judy Martz. When it comes to President Bush, Taylor (and Baucus) fumble over themselves trying to cozy up. Not so with Martz. In television terms (and U.S. Senate races are all about the TeeVee) Bush is an Emmy winner, while Martz competes for ratings with Mr. “Happy Tree” himself, the afro-ed painter Bob Ross.

Maybe Lee Newspapers was really on to something when their recent statewide poll showed that Martz’s “positive job performance score” plummeted to 23 percent, a significant dip from scores of 44 percent in two Lee polls in May and December 2001.

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