It used to be that politicians made token appearances on MTV as a photo-op to show outreach for the youth vote, or maybe because they wanted to get a little street cred with a younger generation (cue Bill Clinton at an MTV town hall getting asked if he wears boxers or briefs).
But now there's a turn in the chapter of MTV and politics -- if you go into the music/reality TV channel's archives you'll find current politicians who were on the channel back in their youth -- not necessarily as policy wonks or soundbite machines, but rather appearing on programs just as themselves -- an average youth.
Delaware's GOP Senate-candidate, Tea Party darling and upset queen of Tuesday's primaries, Christine O'Donnel made an appearance on an MTV show, "Sex in the 90's" in 1996. Wisconsin's Sean Duffy, the GOP contender running for former Democratic Capitol Hill giant Rep. David Obey's seat was a former "Real World" Boston participant. A quick google or YouTube scan gets you instant old footage of their appearances.
O'Donnell's clips from "Sex in the 90's" were first dug up by MSNBC and show her talking about sexual purity. She says, "The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. You can't masturbate without lust."
Clips from Duffy's on MTV show him dancing on a pool table in Boston, living with a group of other 20-somethings in a hip pad in Beacon Hill. He later went on to appear on the "Road Rules/Real World Challenge" where he met his wife, Rachel Campos, another Real World alum. Duffy, a former lumberjack champ went on to be a successful District Attorney, raising his six kids with Rachel in northern Wisconsin. He was at first seen as a long shot to upset Obey, but then started to surge in polls even before Obey announced his retirement after four decades in Congress.
Soon after college, O'Donnell started working on GOP policy, with a stint at the Republican National Committee and the lobbying Congress on moral issues as founder and president of SALT (Savior's Alliance for Lifting the Truth), which she mentions in that MTV clip. She also worked the talk-show circuit as a political commentator. After couple failed attempts at running for office, O'Donnell was finally able to break through in her surprise upset over longtime Delaware politican Rep. Mike Castle Tuesday's GOP primary, even after controversies over her finances were disclosed.
One could argue they saw the music channel as an early way to plot a political career as way to get heightened media exposure. Perhaps. But that's not as likely considering it's never been seen as a must-do for a national political career -- akin to say, an appearance on a Sunday morning news talk show. And any communications director would probably not advise a wannabe-lawmaker to have dancing video from their 20s or a potentially controversial conversations about sex when they weren't so polished and measured in their political speak.
This certainly begs the question, does this mean we may have a Senator Snooki in the future? You decide.
Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi at MTV Movie Awards/AP