Adding up the celebrity endorsements

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Star power
Television host Oprah Winfrey listens as Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama addresses a crowd in Columbia, South Carolina.

As you most certainly know by now, media mogul Oprah Winfrey has thrown all of her star power behind presidential candidate Barack Obama. And her endorsement is more than welcome in the Obama camp.

When Winfrey accompanied Obama on a campaign stop in Des Moines last week, 18,000 people showed up. Days later, an estimated 30,000 packed a South Carolina stadium to hear the talk show host gush about the man she wants to see in the White House.

Of course, Obama isn't the only one snapping up celebrity support.

Dennis Kucinich has the backing of Ani DiFranco, Willie Nelson and Sean Penn.

Mitt Romney can count on Donny and Marie Osmond.

And Fred Thompson has the endorsement of "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak.

Hillary Clinton apparently appeals to recording artists -- albeit it an odd mix of them. The former first lady is backed by Barbra Streisand and Carly Simon as well as Janet Jackson and American Idol finalist Katharine McPhee. Rapper 50 Cent has also spoken out in Clinton's favor, but he hasn't formally endorsed her for top office.

John Edwards seems to attract the funnier side of the social scene. He has the support of Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David along with that of Hank Azaria, the voice of Simpsons' favorites like Moe the bartender and Apu the Kwik-E-Mart owner.

Rudy Giuliani, on the other hand, is a big draw for 1970s pin-up girls. Both Bo Derek and Cheryl Ladd have endorsed the New York Republican.

Then there's Mike Huckabee. His endorsees, well, they aren't the type to be messed with. We're talking Chuck Norris, wrestler Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair and rocker/ gun rights advocate Ted Nugent.

Of course, as exciting as it must be to see Will Smith and Halle Barry at a pancake breakfast fundraiser for Barack Obama, there's really no proof that celebrity endorsements translate into votes. Certainly they draw attention to a campaign. But, to hear one political consultant tell it, celebrity endorsements have a "cotton candy effect. They taste great, then evaporate into thin air."

When asked if a celebrity endorsement would influence the way they vote, 78 percent of Americans said no.

Then again, who would publicly admit to taking political advice from porn star Jenna Jameson? She's backing Hillary Clinton, by the way.

Perhaps people really will be swayed by Oprah Winfrey's endorsement of Barack Obama. It's just not likely they'll tell anyone their decision was influenced by a billionaire TV host who also endorses crocheted Ugg boots.

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