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Google kills ad critical of Bush, lets pro-Bush ads continue running

By John Byrne

In a stunning move by the fledging search engine firm known for its open access to information, the Google AdWords program has suspended the campaign of an advertiser selling playing cards intended to poke fun at President Bush. The firm halted the campaign for its use of keywords "George Bush," "George W. Bush," "President Bush," "Bush Cards," and "Bush Decks."


It also specifically blocked the ad for the search term "war profiteers."

"At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain language that advocates against an individual, group, or organization," a Google email remarked.

Advertisements promoting pro-Bush playing cards continue to run on Google and its affiliate sites, including George Bush Playing Cards, "52 Reasons to Re-elect G.W. Bush," and "Political Playing Cards." Another ad appears for a tamer site selling caricature cards of the President's associates, saying, "George Bush may not have a full deck."

At the time of this writing, Google also continues to run an ad for Showtime's "American Candidate" under the search term "Bush," headlined, "Beat Bush, save America." It also runs an ad critical of Sen. John Kerry, titled "Kerry is Scary Shoppe," with the text, "Political gifts, clothing, stickers with the Scream head of John Kerry!"

The blocked advertisement, for "Deck of Bush," contained the phrase "54 reasons NOT to re-elect the President."

"Now I know how Howard Stern feels," said co-creator Jerry Vasilatos. "What's ironic is that Google Adwords allows ad campaigns for products and items supportive of President Bush as can be attested by other sponsored links which appear when you search out the same keywords they deem unacceptable for our use."

Vasilatos also noted that Google seems to have no problem with running ads for pornography websites, including those which appear to advocate criminal behavior. Four advertisements come up for the search term "underage boys."

"The hypocrisy regarding their definition that 'Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain 'language that advocates against an individual, group, or organization' is astounding," he remarked. "While Google prohibits ads promoting our website because it contains "language that advocates against an individual group" (President Bush), apparently it condones advertisements for websites promoting sex with the underaged which we think advocates criminal behavior against individuals and groups (underaged children)."

In a form letter, a Google official made the following statement: "A different set of laws and regulations apply to commercial speech (advertising) than to the search results we show when you do a Google search. As a business, Google must make decisions about where we draw the line in regards to the advertising we accept, both from a legal and company values perspective."

"Please note that the decisions we make concerning advertising in no way affect the search results we deliver," the letter continued. "We will continue to deliver results for sites that advocate the full spectrum of political positions and personal opinions."

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