Barbie Gets Lead Poisoning in Political Ad Calling for Product Safety Chief to Quit

A political video currently making the rounds on the Internet features two of the most popular dolls ever mass-produced, but the subject matter is hardly fun and games.

The video shows Barbie and Ken — no last names required here — after a night of apparent make-up sex during a post-breakup rendezvous. Then Barbie finds out she’s contracted a dread disease.

To her embarrassment, she has to tell Ken the bad news: It's lead poisoning.

The titillating political ad, posted on YouTube by the consumer advocacy group Campaign for America’s Future, pokes fun at the rash of toy recalls, but is strident in its call for Consumer Product Safety Commission Acting Chairman Nancy Nord to step down.

Click here to watch the video.

The organization has been campaigning for Nord to quit, saying she has done little to address the product safety problem, particularly when it comes to imported items.

But in an interview with, Nord insisted she has no plans to resign.

"I am not inclined to step down based on erroneous news stories," she said.

Though she hadn't yet seen the Barbie-and-Ken video, Nord defended her work as head of the commission and contended the recalls have been a crackdown on the part of the CPSC to get toxic toys off store shelves.

"We are doing something about this: We are recalling products when we are finding violations," she said. "With respect to the recalls that have happened this summer and fall, the apparent increase flows from violations of our lead paint ban. The recalls were well publicized. We were dead serious about enforcing the law."

The farcical anti-Nord ad comes as Black Friday — the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season on the day after Thanksgiving — is fast approaching, and as consumer groups have been issuing a growing number of warnings about toys made in China.

On Wednesday, more than half a million Chinese-made children's necklaces, charm bracelets and pin sets were recalled for lead contamination. The tainted jewelry was sold at Family Dollar Stores, Michaels Stores and other chains.

Curious George plush dolls and a game called Aqua Dots were recalled earlier this month. The beads in Aqua Dots were found to contain a poisonous substance that turns into "the date rape drug" GHB when ingested that was making children sick. The Curious George stuffed animals had hazardous levels of lead in their paint coating. Both toys were manufactured in China.

In the 90-second YouTube ad, the on-again, off-again doll couple are reunited over a drink at a bar. Apparently, they go home together, because they're shown sitting on a bed the next morning, Barbie's hair tousled and Ken's shirt unbuttoned. Barbie promises to call — which she does a week later, sounding glum and humiliated. She finally gets the words out: "It's .... it's lead poisoning!" Ken's head swivels around in shock.

Mattel's Barbie doll accessories were among the scores of toys made in China and other countries to be recalled this year because of hazards including toxic lead levels in paint.

Nord has sent a legislative proposal to Congress containing at least 40 specific recommendations that would give the agency more authority and resources to better protect consumers, but Congress hasn't acted on it, she said. She opposes legislation that would lead to increased litigation.

The CPSC has been working with the Chinese government on implementing bans on lead paint, identifying manufacturers in violation of regulations, increasing inspections, training workers about U.S. safety standards and other initiatives, according to Nord.

She denied reports that she has failed to ask for more funding and supported budget cuts for the commission, which has about 400 employees.

"I never said I would not welcome more money," Nord said. "I would love to have more money. We do an incredible job with what we've got. We are a tiny agency. But if we had more resources, we could do more."

Among the politicians calling for Nord, a President Bush appointee, to quit her post are Democratic presidential hopeful and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.