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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 09/12/2008

The E-Mailbag: When Candidates Utter the Ideas of Others

By Michael Cavna

Four candidates running for the White House. Two political rock stars. And one big fat godsend for humorists.

The nation's cartoonists are having a field day with the election that, for many, doubles as entertainment fix. Which is why we asked you to join in the fun and provide surrogate captions for this artwork, by European cartoonist Patrick Chappatte.

Your caption here. Literally.Enlarge Comic

And the winning caption entry is:
Obama: "They need a little work on their elephant shadow."
-- Posted by "Andrew."
(Judge's comments: "Deftly acknowledges that the new GOP pair was still working out their road show -- and Sarah Palin's arm, raised trunklike, implies who's fronting this ticket in terms of starpower.")

Congratulations, Andrew. You now join a rarefield winner's circle of folks that someday -- should we get a budget -- might get coffee mugs, T-shirts or a fine shade of pitbull lipstick.

And speaking of writing material to put in candidates' mouths, a number of readers have asked us whether it's true: Is Tom Toles now speechwriting for Barack Obama? The answer: No. And yet, inadvertently -- Yes.

In recent days, on several occasions, Obama co-opted the pithy wit of Toles, whose Washington Post cartoon a week ago mocked the McCain&Palin claims to change Bush administration policies.

( paired the cartoon and speech footage this week as such.)

The Obama camp says it used Toles's wording inadvertently. So did Obama eventually acknowledge the source? "Obama credited me by name on CNN and that was it," Toles tells us. (Note: Obama did so after his campaign was contacted by Post editors.)

Which just proves: When it comes to brilliantly incisive political wit, even the candidates end up leaving it to professionals.

Some online commentators have criticized Obama's use of cartoon balloons for his campaign oratory. What do you think: Is it fair use for politicians to co-opt cartoonists' ideas if the source is cited?

By Michael Cavna  | September 12, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  The E-Mailbag  
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It's fair, but probably embarrassing. I can't imagine touting policy "as espoused by Tom Toles".

But I bet many ideas on both sides come from bloggers or letter writers and are never credited. So why publicly acknowledge Toles or Rall or any other cartoonist who put a bug in the politician's ear? If it was I, I'd be happy with the pride of Making A Difference.

Posted by: f2 | September 12, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Obama credited Toles by name on Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Monday evening.

Posted by: Stewart | September 12, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Obama is learning from Joe Biden already. Just the wrong things.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 12, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

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