Google Catches Bush Astroturf Campaign

"It looks like the Bush Administration is astroturfing, trying to artificially create the appearance of a grassroots movement supporting their policies," writes Jules Agee. "A Google search on the phrase 'demonstrating genuine leadership' returns a number of nearly identical letters sent to the editors of various newspapers and publications this month, each one with the name of a different individual attached." Some alert bloggers traced the letters to a Republican party website that offers gifts such as coolers, tote bags and mouse pads in exchange for sending letters to the editor. When asked about the form letters, one newspaper editor commented, "The practice of mass submitting letters is old. We have been receiving these types of letters for some time. ... I'm just shocked that it has taken so long for others to expose it. This fad begun over three years ago." But some newspapers liked the letters so much that they published them more than once, over the signatures of different local residents.