Monty Python stars threaten legal action against Chris Christie
Michael Palin and Terry Jones have complained that Chris Christie, the Republican candidate for the New Jersey governorship, used clips from a Monty Python sketch in a campaign advertisement.
By Alex Spillius in Washington
Published: 9:38PM GMT 02 Nov 2009
Mr Christie, who hopes to unseat his Democratic rival Jon Corzine as governor in an election on Tuesday, removed the video from his website and YouTube page hours after complaints from Michael Palin and Terry Jones.
The offending advertisement featured Palin in a vintage Monty Python's Flying Circus piece as a television presenter asking viewers if they had ever suffered from déjà vu and then repeating the question several times. Mr Christie's commercial, which was aired on numerous occasions, drew parallels with his rival's repeated attempts to impose higher motorway tariffs.
Palin told the Huffington Post website: "I'm surprised that a former US attorney isn't aware of his copyright infringement when he uses our material without permission. He's clearly made a terrible mistake. It was the endorsement of Sarah Palin he was after - not that of Michael Palin."
Jones said that the Pythons was strongly considering suing for his copyright infringement, saying it was "totally outrageous" that an experienced lawyer "thinks he can rip off people".
Republicans have an established record of upsetting liberally inclined entertainers by using their material without consent. Earlier this year the singer Jackson Browne won an undisclosed financial settlement from Senator John McCain for his use of the song Running on Empty during his failed 2008 presidential bid.
Tom Petty threatened to sue George W Bush if he refused to stop using his song I Won't Back Down in 2000, while Bruce Springsteen refused to allow Ronald Reagan to play Born in the USA during his 1984 re-election campaign.
Despite his troubles with British comics, Mr Christie, 47, is expected to triumph despite of the late intervention of President Barack Obama who made two campaign stops in New Jersey on Sunday.
The result will provide clues about how voters, particularly independents, who typically determine a winner, feel about the country, the president and the party in power one year after Democrats won the White House and strengthened their majorities in both houses of Congress.
The results also could provide important lessons for Democrats and Republicans a year before the 2010 mid-term elections, when there are 37 races for governor, at least 36 in the Senate and all 435 in the House of Representatives.
Voters in Virginia and New Jersey have said their like or dislike of Obama will not effect their decision, but the president's popularity has fallen to just above 50 per cent, about average for presidents towards the end of their first year in power.
Mr Obama himself acknowledged that national politics and national fortunes were affecting local races, reminding voters that the recession began under George W Bush.
"It wasn't a consequence of Obama policies or Corzine policies that we went into this hole," he said during a raucous campaign stop in Camden, New Jersey. "There seems to be some selective memory going on here."