Archie Bunker, Mr. Clean, and more of history's greatest fictional presidential candidates.

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Nov. 3 2008 2:08 PM

Barbie '08

Archie Bunker, Mr. Clean, and more of history's greatest fictional presidential candidates.

Click here to read a slide-show essay on history's greatest fictional presidential candidates.

One of the top story lines of the 2008 campaign has been a possible surge of fake voters. But as we concern ourselves with voter fraud, let us not forget our country's long history of fake presidential candidates. The San Diego-based Museum of Hoaxes just named its top 20 satirical political candidates of all time, noting that comedians Will Rogers (1928), Gracie Allen (1940), and Pat Paulsen (1968) paved the way for this year's ill-fated bid by Stephen Colbert—and perhaps even Al Franken's serious bid for one of Minnesota's seats in the U.S. Senate.

Thanks to his son Morty, Paulsen is running for president this year from the grave. Franken and humorist Dave Barry have also gotten significant book-tour mileage in the past by declaring themselves Oval Office hopefuls. Beyond leveraging a fake political campaign for personal career advancement, the tactic is also a proven way to move products. More than a year before Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was branded "Caribou Barbie," the doll herself launched her fourth bid for the White House. Corporate mascots such as Mr. Clean have long used election seasons to create buzz for supermarket coupons, while television shows like All in the Family and Happy Days have likewise been drawn to the allure of presidential marketing.

Click here to read a slide-show essay on history's greatest fictional presidential candidates.

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Darren Garnick is a freelance writer and documentary filmmaker.