Dan Savage

Updates From the Front Lines of Comedy: Santorum

An old joke is getting new legs, where comedy meets presidential politics.

Google “Santorum.” We’ve all done it by now. While the potential Republican candidate Rick Santorum’s page is high on the list, #1 is a bit more risqué. And it’s driving the candidate crazy.

I remember when sex-columnist and humorist Dan Savage first ran his competition to re-define “Santorum,” and make the new definition the top Google hit, after the politician’s homophobic comments to the Associated Press. That was quite some time ago — 2003. As far as I was concerned, Rick Santorum had disappeared. But with the onrush of republican contenders to take on Obama, Santorum is back in the national spotlight, along with his unwanted Google search results. And really, Santorum is making it worse for himself, drawing even more attention to the joke by asking Google to fix these image problems.

This stunt was an early example of a Google Bomb, an effort to control Google results to usually humorous ends. Here’s a site that tells you how to pull it off. A number of Google Bombs have been tossed since the first in 2001, attacking people such as George W. Bush (who you could search for by typing in “miserable failure”) and Nicolas Sarkozy. But none have legs like this one. I don’t think it’s going too far to say that this is one of the most effective politico-comic assasinations in decades. I talk a lot on this site about taking control of the narrative, but redefining the enemy’s name itself is taking it to a new level. Can we do some more of these? A “Rick Perry” is…

This summer, after being attacked by Santorum, Dan Savage Threatened to go a step further: