mellencamp
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The political game, much like show business, is often an entertaining soap opera of talented egomaniacs. So it's little surprise when the two worlds collide. After Indiana Senator and nominal Democrat Evan Bayh announced this week that he wouldn't be torpedoing health care reform seeking re-election for a third term, rumors began swirling that fellow Hoosier John "Small Town" Mellencamp might run for Bayh's vacated seat. History suggests it's not such a bad idea.

Elections are a popularity contest by definition—so naturally, celebrities who get political have caused people to confuse the distinction between voter and fan. The results are as varied as the candidates themselves. While some, such as Bono, play the sidelines as advocates, others fully enter the political arena by running for office. Here's a look back...

Jimmie Davis (D), 1944
• Born in 1899 to a sharecropping family, Davis was one of the most successful at transitioning from music to politics. The country musician served two non-consecutive terms under the slogan "He's One Of Us" and was the only person to have a #1 single while an active governor. Six years after his death, the state became LilWeezyana and adopted a new, uh, state tree.

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Shirley Temple Black (R), 1969
• After winning an Oscar at age 6, life didn't seem so challenging for the child star. In addition to having a cocktail named on her behalf, Temple dabbled in political circles: She lost a congressional race, but was subsequently appointed by Nixon to be a U.N. rep. Temple went on to serve a number of ambassador positions, where tap dancing and acting are key assets.

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Ronald Reagan (R), 1967
• No entertainer achieved more political power than Reagan. As the first actor to jump from the box office to the ballot box, Ronnie became Cali's 33rd governor, a position that allowed him to slash social programs and try to crush the anti-war movement in Berkeley. He took his Reaganomics to Washington as president, and is constantly exhumed and jocked by today's conservatives. Six years after his death, artists still reflect on the 'Reagan era.'

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Clint Eastwood (R), 1986
• If Reagen was the entertainer most successful in politics, Eastwood was the politician with the strongest entertainment credentials. After years of telling Hollywood goons to "make my day," the San Francisco native became the mayor of upscale California coastal town Carmel. His public feud with Spike Lee, coupled with an endorsement for John McCain, led some to believe that his role as a racist old man in Gran Torino was semi-autobiographical.

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Sonny Bono (R), 1988
• Coming straight out of Inglewood, Bono was best known for bagging Cher and writing hit records like "I Got You Babe". He became the mayor of Palm Springs in '88 and was eventually elected to congress in '94 to represent Cali's 44th district. After a freak accident in 1998, the gifted songwriter became a common punchline for rappers who would "hit the trees harder than Sonny Bono."

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Fred Thompson (R), 1994
• As a presidential candidate, Al Gore should have known he would lose in his home state of Tennessee after Republican actor Fred Thompson filled his seat. The Law & Order thespian built a lengthy reputation as a lobbyist and lawyer who often played the role of a government official. During his failed run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, Thompson was often overshadowed by his young MILFy wife, Jeri Kehn.

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Jesse Ventura (I), 1999
• James Janos, aka "Jesse Ventura," is the only former WWF member to step into the political ring. Running as an independent, he swooped the governorship of Minnesota for only one term. Recently he launched the TV show Conspiracy Theory, where he attempts to snitch on murky governmental plots that he supposedly learned about while in office. No one seems to care.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), 2003
• The former juicehead and world-renowned female groper surprised everyone when he replaced the spineless Gray Davis and became the Golden State's 38th governor. He repeatedly invokes his catchphrase "I'll be back" at political rallies, regardless of its contextual irrelevance. Now with a staggering state deficit on his watch, it's not clear if the Terminator is going anywhere, let alone returning.

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Al Franken (D), 2009
• They say some of the best rappers could be comedians, and it looks like the same is true for politicians. Franken sharpened his comedic chops writing and performing on SNL back when it was funny. Following a string of books that attacked the right wing, Franken intensified his political ambitions and eventually secured a seat in the Senate. All jokes aside, watching him rip into adversaries is high-level entertainment.

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