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Smashing George P. sends voters dashing to the polls

I learned many things this summer. I learned how to jumpstart a car and how to smile and say thank you convincingly to people who've been terribly rude. I even learned all the words to every song on Creed's album (this was unintentional). But most important, I learned that politics can be very, very sexy.

I came to this particular conclusion one morning as I opened up the Style section of The Washington Post and came face to face with my future: George P. Bush.

George P., for those of you not yet acquainted with this Adonis, is the son of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, grandson of former President George Bush, nephew of Texas Governor and presidential candidate George W. Bush, and newly minted heart-throb of the Republican Party.

George P. has come to prominence in recent months as he has stepped onto the campaign trail on behalf of his uncle.

The 24-year-old, whose mother is Mexican-American, has been addressing crowds filled with Hispanics and younger voters in an effort to drum up support for George W.

He's been doing a credible job too.

Everywhere George P. goes, people show up. Young women, especially.

I'd heard of George P. before I opened my paper that morning, but I couldn't have cared less about what he had to say about the upcoming election. Truthfully, I hadn't been paying very much attention to the race at all.

Sure I'd done my civic duty and voted in the primary, but I hadn't bothered to get informed about either candidate's specific platform.

But when I saw the picture of George P., all that changed.

"Good Lord, George Bush's nephew is attractive," I thought to myself. "I'm going to have to start paying more attention to politics."

Suddenly, I cared very deeply about what he (and by extension his uncle) had to say. Politics became my life.

As the Republican convention approached and George P.'s speaking engagements became more high profile, I became an avid watcher of C-Span and CNN. I saw him flash that dazzling smile to crowd after crowd.

I listened intently as he peppered his speeches with Spanish expressions and assured his audiences that George W. was the best thing for America. Larry King Live enjoyed my viewership when P. was a guest. I even converted other formerly apathetic citizens into gung-ho politicos.

On the final night of the Republican convention I watched excitedly as George P. addressed the convention hall.

"Is he perfect or what?" I asked my sister. "I mean, the man is amazing to look at and he's articulate and polite. Plus, he spent a year teaching underprivileged children, and he's starting law school in the fall. They don't get any better than this."

"I'm definitely going to have to register to vote," my friend and fellow P. fan, Kelly, told me one evening. "I don't stand a chance with the man if I don't assert my right as a U.S. citizen to participate in the electoral process."

I gave her a funny look.

"You're going to register to vote because you want to make sure that, should you ever meet George P. Bush, you'll be able to say that you're a voter? And you think this will make yourself a strong candidate as a date for the man?"

"Yep," she smiled.

I began to worry that the attention I had been paying to the presidential race was somehow wrong. Politics became a part of my life because of a pretty face and not because I wanted to make an informed decision in November.

Embarrassed by my status as a George P. groupie and my lack of noble motive when it came to arming myself with knowledge about the presidential candidates, I turned to my friend Jen.

"Kate," she told me, "I wouldn't worry about coming to understand the issues because of a hot guy. Who cares how you came to be informed?"

There was a thoughtful pause before Jen continued.

"It's like if you join a church because you have a crush on one of the members, and end up finding God. Even though your reasons for joining the congregation weren't the best, it doesn't ultimately matter. It's just important that you found faith."

Her comparison amused me. Still, I had to admit she had a point. Maybe it was a little silly to have become interested in politics because one of the candidates had an attractive relative, but at least I got interested.

Besides, I wasn't the first voter to allow looks to play a part in their political life. It's said that John F. Kennedy won the race against Nixon in part because he looked better on television during their debates.

George P. isn't the only comely campaigner to be getting a lot of media attention either. Al Gore's daughter, Karenna, has also been lending her father some high profile support.

I'm comforted by the thought that I'm not the only one who has been wooed to the polls by a pretty politician. If they have to flaunt an eye-appealing relative to get me hooked, it's just as legit as any other campaigning tool.

In the end, though, it's not about which candidate's supporters you're hot for, but which candidate's ideas you're hot to support.


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