Many of Super Bowl XLVI’s commercials were seen online more than a week before they aired on television, yet even without the surprise factor, several ads sparked strong reactions, including Chrysler’s ad featuring Clint Eastwood. As Rachel Weiner reported:

A Chrysler ad aired during the Super Bowl Sunday night has inspired ire among some Republicans and admiration among some Democrats — with both sides seeing a political message that boosts President Obama.

In an ad touting the resurgence of the American auto industry, Clint Eastwood declared that it’s “halftime in America and our second half’s about to begin,” which could be interpreted as a reference to Obama’s second term. 

The ad’s themes seem to echo Obama’s own argument that his administration brought the auto industry back from the brink of disaster.

“They almost lost everything,” Eastwood says of Detroit. “But we all pulled together. Now Motor City is fighting again.”

“I was, frankly, offended by it,” said Karl Rove on Fox News Monday. “I'm a huge fan of Clint Eastwood, I thought it was an extremely well-done ad, but it is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising.”

There were numerous Super Bowl ads for food and drink companies including the new Bud Light Platinum. All We Can Eat highlighted the best and worst of the commercials. As Tim Carman explained :

The best Super Bowl XLVI commercials, by and large, hawked neither food nor drink, but false dictators, Audi headlights, smart phones , Chevys as stunt cars and Volkswagens with a nose for pop culture.

And was it my imagination or did many of the major beer companies, except for Budweiser, take the night off?

Our verdict on this year’s batch of food and drink ads:

Bud Light Platinum : The isolated factory far from peering eyes. The single, sharp, strident piano notes. The employee-less production line. This feels less like a brewery than a Terminator manufacturing plant.

Coke’s polar bears: What was once a charming series of animated commercials — sort of childlike, sort of nostalgic for a prosperous post-war America — are now just reminders that polar bear habitat looks more like a desert island than an icy man cave.

Pepsi’s royal court: This Elizabethan-era standoff — why does it feel like Goth Day at Disneyland? — between Elton John and “The X Factor” winner Melanie Amarois only redeemed by its ending, when Sir Elton comes face to face with Flavor Flavon the trash heap of life.

M&M strip dance: Sexualizing coated-chocolate candy? I may need therapy next time I put an M&M on my tongue.

Doritos sling-shot baby: Cute, in that sort of tough granny outwits smug pre-pubescent who hasn’t learned how to share. The lesson: Diabolical endangerment of an infant is cooler than selfishness.

Companies that paid the high price for Super Bowl advertising slots should be pleased with the viewership for their commercials, while NBC probably is wishing fewer people saw some of the bad behavior that marred the telecast. As Lisa De Moraes reported :

For the third time in as many years, Sunday’s Super Bowl has been crowned the most-watched television broadcast ever.

An estimated 111.3 million people watched the New York Giants defeat the New England Patriots, 21-17, Nielsen said Monday.

Of course, it also means a record number of people saw rapper/singer M.I.A. flip off America during Madonna’s halftime show. NBC and the NFL are engaged in what is not yet quite a war of words — maybe a kerfuffle of words — over that incident.

And with the Super Bowl climbing to the top of the Nielsen ratings pile for the third consecutive year, the longtime record-holder — CBS’s 1983 “M*A*S*H” series finale — moves farther down the list, to fourth.

That long-running antiwar dramedy averaged a whopping 106 million, back when the country’s population was 200 million. Today, the U.S. Census Bureau puts the country’s population at more than 300 mil. “M*A*S*H” is still several laps ahead of all these Super Bowls when it comes to percentage of homes that tuned in to watch.

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