Politicians in Plastic




"Senator, welcome to the dollhouse!"For the sake of the Granite State's political credibility, it's a blessing that neither one of our U.S. Senators dresses like Britney Spears. But based on the fashion tastes of a controversial toymaker, that's all about to change.Herobuilders.com, a Connecticut company that's brazenly brought diverse characters like Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Barack Obama and Sarah Palin to the action figure aisle, just created the Kelly Ayotte doll.The New Hampshire junior Senator's mini-me retails for $39.95 and comes with your choice of clothing, ranging from conservative political pantsuits to a saucy school girl outfit. The short plaid skirt and tight white blouse option channels Britney's first album, the one in which she croons "Hit Me Baby One More Time."Ayotte joins Congresswomen Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Kristi Noem (R-SD), and Sandy Adams (R-FL) as well as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in the "Republican Lady" collection. All are considered Tea Party darlings and include a free pair of doll earrings.Herobuilders CEO Emil Vicale says he's celebrating the fresh infusion of female leadership in politics. So I asked him why New Hampshire's senior senator, Jeanne Shaheen, was not also immortalized in plastic. Answer: She's not "Herobuilders material," cruel code for "Jeanne's older than Kelly and has shorter hair."Fully realizing there are more earth-shattering issues facing our Senators, I called both offices in Washington seeking comment. Shaheen's spokesperson politely declined, while Ayotte's press aide didn't return messages. The New Hampshire Democratic Party, which regularly bombards me with sarcastic press releases, wouldn't bite, either.Comic book publisher Darren Davis, creator of the "Female Force" biography series, was the only guy not afraid to talk."These dolls are definitely sexist," he says. "Would this company make a Rick Perry action figure in his Speedos or a Mitt Romney doll wearing his Mormon undergarments?" Don't rule either of those possibilities out.Vicale thrives on yanking around the political establishment, especially with sexual innuendo. Poking fun at the past modeling career of U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Herobuilders sells an "anatomically correct" Centerfold doll with a fig leaf as Brown's only article of clothing.On his website, Vicale has also taunted al Qaeda with pictures of his bin Laden action figures dressed in Barbie clothes. As far as toy manufacturers go, he is fearless.Except for knobby knees, Ayotte should be thrilled by Herobuilders' portrayal of her. She's tanned and looking 20 years younger. Dressed in a white skirt suit and matching purse, the New Hampshire politician's effigy looks quite stylish, if you can ignore the hideous Doc Marten-style footwear, apparently designed to help her stand erect.The doll poses no threat to her political street cred. But if I were Ayotte's chief of staff, I'd want to know the names and addresses of voters who fantasize about dressing the Senator in a short plaid skirt. These are the people who "accidentally" could be invited to Ayotte events a few days after they happen.At the very least, conversations at New Hampshire constituent meetings could get infinitely more awkward. NH

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