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Coming soon to a TV near you: Your congressman shooting something

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Who knew that when West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin ran an ad in 2010 that featured him shooting a hole in the congressional cap and trade bill he would spark a trend of shooting firearms in political TV commercials?

In Oklahoma, congressional candidate Rob Wallace (D) recently released an ad featuring video of him shooting a map of the state of Texas pegged to the back of a water jug. The ad, of course, was about a water dispute between the two states.

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And this week, Arizona congressional candidate Ron Gould (R) is up with his own ad in which he shoots President Obama’s health care bill as if it were a clay pigeon. (Really.) Gould adds the extra-satisfying — if you oppose Obamacare — image of the bill exploding in mid-air.

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A look at the original from Manchin shows just how similar the new ads are to his original.

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Now, we should emphasize here that it’s hardly unusual for a media consultant to borrow a (successful) idea from another campaign. Instances of candidates running in­cred­ibly similar ads are too many to count, and there are so many set-pieces in the media consultant world (diners, kitchen tables, showcasing the candidate’s mom or family) that a truly novel idea seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

In fact, Manchin isn’t even the first candidate to shoot a gun in his ad.

But in Manchin’s case, he seems to be spawning a wholly new brand of ads in which the main message is: “I’m so tough on XYZ, I’ll shoot it with a gun (and by the way, I like guns too).”

Given there were two copycats in the span of one week at the start of the 2012 ad wars, expect to see more where these came from.

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