When we hit the voting booths in a few months - which will probably turn out to be the biggest outpouring of all time - will it be a personal and self-decided vote? In most cases, yes, but Hollywood still likes to come calling and grasp on to favored would-be leaders.But when these celebrities come forward to offer some support, does it necessarily help the candidate? Hurt the celebrity? Should they even get involved?

It seems that with the 2008 elections, the "celebrity vote" is getting as much press as the man or woman running. From the "Oprah" vote with Barack Obama to the karate-kicking "Chuck Norris" vote for Mike Huckabee, many stars like to add their name to hopefully help their favorite choice.

Last week, USA Today reported that "it's not only the phalanx of celebrities attempting to influence the primary races, it's also what they're doing." (Don't worry, you're not alone: Phalanx (n), fa-la?(k)s: a group of individuals united for a common cause or purpose.) "In years past, most stars have been content to endorse and bankroll candidates and make high-profile appearances. But this year, with the race still open and many states up for grabs, celebrities have been working in key states earlier, in greater numbers and more extensively than ever."

These star endorsements don't always translate into votes, though. In fact, a lot of times, they can be detrimental. No offense to Chuck Norris, but what will he do to the Huckabee campaign that Huckabee himself cannot? He is, however, a newspaper editor's dream. A million headlines are ready for the "karate-chopping" and "drop-kicking" clichÃ&Copy; puns. Other than that, Huckabee should be on his own.

Oprah Winfrey is another story. It almost seems if the woman would invent an all-dog-food diet for humans, Alpo's stock would go through the roof. She has an insane amount of power. Perhaps she is what's keeping Obama in the race with Mrs. Bill Clinton.

Although, the former First Lady and possible "Really First Lady" had Ted Danson showing up at her campaign stops last week. All that will really do is get the words "Ted" and "Danson" back in the news temporarily.

Before dropping out of the race, John Edwards received assistance from singers John Mellencamp and Bonnie Raitt, as well as actors Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.

Rudy Giuliani, who I thought would go much further than he did, was accompanied by Jon Voight. Really? Jon Voight?

The big guy right now, John McCain, has diabetes spokesperson and Quaker Oates sponsor Wilford Brimley. Somehow, McCain is still on top. This goes to prove that celebrity assistance, or even Wilford Brimley, does not necessarily factor into the voting.

As well it shouldn't. We should go with our own preference. It's great that those in high places want to possibly risk their images and support a particular candidate - it shows courage. But it should not impress us or influence us in the least.

In our next leader, I want to see determination; a clear-set plan but room for additional ideas; appropriate knowledge but a willingness to learn and listen. And I appreciate the candidate who tells me what he or she can do and why he or she should be elected. Rather than why the other person is wrong.

Let them be wrong. Tell me why you are right. This can easily be done without celebrity assistance - or even Chuck Norris, Wilford Brimley and Ted Danson.

Chris Barnes is the former editor of The Free Press and The Saucon News. His e-mail address is chrisbarnesopinion@gmail.com. His columns are available online at www.cjbarnes.blogspot.com.

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