An outrageous political ad now running on television in South Carolina, where the latest Republican primary battle is being fought, depicts would-be presidential candidate Mitt Romney as a serial killer.
At one point , it shows a body being dragged off.
The ad is actually a satire by TV provocateur Stephen Colbert- not that you actually are told that directly . It is simply so awful that you finish up saying to yourself, "They have to be joking."
And although the ad has had limited airings in South Carolina, it has received US-wide exposure as national TV stations take up the story.
Colbert's aim is to expose the chaos that has descended on the American political system following a widely-criticised Supreme Court decision which two years ago opened the door for wealthy private individuals and cash-rich companies to set up so-called super PACS - short for Political Action Committees - to support with unlimited funds particular candidates.
The only restriction is that the candidate must not liaise with or be involved in the new organisations. Fat use that - as ex-staffers can be found running the super PACS . The makers of the commercials are not even subject to normal rules about truth in advertising - because of First Amendment protection for "freedom of speech."
The super PAC attack ads have already been been used with devastating effect by supporters of Mitt Romney to savage Newt Gingrich, who at one point appeared to be a serious challenger to Romney for the Republican nomination.
Stephen Colbert's stunning idea was to set up his own super PAC and produce the ad you see here. Just in case , he has delegated fellow comedian Jon Stewart to run the super PAC, just in case he (Colbert) should decided to run for office. Got to keep it all proper, you see.
Americans are shocked by the havoc that the Supreme Court decision has. wreaked . And there are fears that presidential campaign itself could be derailed with self-interested individuals and companies pouring hundred of millions into campaigns to tear down the rival candidates .
The chances of the court reversing itself are thought to be slim . One hope is that public revulsion will be so great, that the ads will eventually cancel themselves out .
But some political commentators fear democracy itself is under threat . And that an amendment to the constitution might be necessary to clean up the dog-doo left by the court.
Romney was quoted today as saying the US would be better without the super PAC ads. But just look at this video of an anti-Gjngrich ad by a Romney-supporting super PAC, calling itself 'Restore Our Future. This is NOT a spoof ad!