Remember when John McCain was saying he planned to run a civil, respectful campaign? Well, that shit's over. Ever since McCain replaced his top advisers with disciples of Karl Rove, it's gotten real nasty. Using outrageously divisive rhetoric (Obama "would rather lose a war than lose an election"), McCain's campaign has been hammering Barack Obama with a new negative ad every day since the beginning of the Illinois senator's foreign trip. The latest was the ad in which Obama was compared to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton as a shallow mere "celebrity," unfit for public service. This is the earliest point in a post-primary Presidential campaign that the rhetoric has been so harsh and unrelenting, but it's not surprising considering the Rove influence. Rove, who learned cutthroat politics at the feet of the master, South Carolina's Lee Atwater, has long believed in "stripping the bark" off opponents and diverting attention from his own candidates' weaknesses. So now, McCain isn't just a Bush clone in terms of policies, he's willingly given over his campaign to followers of Bush's "boy genius." It's gonna be a long, long, long, campaign, folks. Considering the past success of GOP fear-mongering (and this time around, after eight years of abject failure, what else have they got to run on?), don't count the geezer out yet.