WASHINGTON – Few political ads — few ads, period — have this kind of star power.
ONE.org, an anti-poverty organization, is airing a public service announcement that features George Clooney, Don Cheadle, Alfre Woodard, Julia Roberts, Toby Keith and others that urges viewers to vote to fight global AIDS and Third World poverty.
The 30-second spot is narrated by Matt Damon as the camera pans down a line of celebrities and regular Americans waiting against a spare white wall to vote. The trick is in its ordinariness. The camera treats everyone in the shot the same and lingers on no one. No celebrity is identified.
"Saving lives in the world's poorest countries. Winning the fight against global AIDS and extreme poverty," Damon says. "There aren't two sides to these issues. There is only one. Please vote. ONE.org."
To make its nonpartisan point, the ad features former Clinton spokesman Mike McCurry chatting up former Bush financial strategist Jack Oliver. Both men have made fighting poverty a special cause. Both the Republican National Committee and the Democratic national Committee featured the ad on their Web sites this week.
The ad is appearing through Election Day Nov. 7 on MTV Network channels as well as Comedy Central and News Corp.'s broadcast and cable channels.
Also appearing in the ad are evangelical Christian pastor Rick Warren, author of the best-selling "The Purpose Driven Life," and Bishop Charles E. Blake, pastor of 24,000-member West Angeles Church of God in Christ. Clooney appears next to his father, Nick Clooney, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in Kentucky in 2004.
In a separate video clip on the ONE.org Web site, George Clooney encourages voters to question candidates about their positions on how to deal with poverty and AIDS.
"We're being raised to believe in this society that says if you just pick yourself up by your bootstraps, if you just make a decision to do well, then you can do well," Clooney said. "But they don't have bootstraps. They don't have anything."