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The Royal Treatment

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People don't want their rats meek and subliminal. They want them grand, maraud ing, glutton ous—scaling tall buildings, if possible. That's the lesson learned from Republican challenger Sonny Perdue's video master piece in the Georgia governor's race. Where Repub licans fell in 2000 with "Rats," Perdue rises with a campy, Godzilla-esque parable about Democrat Roy Barnes' "shifty and crafty" performance as governor. "As the power coursed through his veins, King Roy Barnes made promises upon promises, and kept hardly a one," a narrator says as a huge rodent with a "King Roy" necklace gorges himself in the governor's mansion, lumbers through Atlanta's traffic-clogged streets, climbs buildings and drags his sag ging tail to the state capitol to give its golden dome a big smooch.

The video—running on VoteSonny.com and sent to campaign backers—has been attacked by some politicians and pundits. But the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jim Wooten praised it. "Is all humor gone from politics?" he wrote. "The rat's funny. And effective."

"The only folks who aren't laughing are the governor and his people," adds Perdue flack Dan McLagan. "They're like the cast of Grumpy Old Men 3." McLagan shrugs off suggestions that the ad (code-named ROUS, a nod to the Rodents of Unusual Size in The Prin cess Bride) is mean-spirited. His politically sensi tive mom, he explains, "almost laughed herself off her chair" when she saw it.