Astroturf (as in “fake grassroots”) campaigns are nothing new. It’s just that the internet makes it harder to get away with these things.

You’ve probably seen this story already, but if you’ve missed it, here’s a rundown.

IF YOU DO A SEARCH on the truly marvellous Google on the phrase Bush “demonstrating genuine leadership”, like the Three Bears song goes, you’re in for a big surprise.

The search engine reveals three pages of results which list letters to the editors of august publications including the Boston Globe, the Star Press, the Suburban Chicago Courier News, and many many more.

They all have a similar form, starting: “WHEN IT COMES to the economy, President Bush is demonstrating genuine leadership. The growth package he has proposed takes us in the right direction by accelerating the….”

Amazing, that so many Republicans across the country were independently inspired to write nearly identical letters to the editor. Where are Mulder and Scully when you need them?

Atrios has been on this as well.

And if you go here, you can sign up to become a GOP team leader and help keep an eye on their clumsy attempts at manipulating public opinion.