The Cookie-Cutter Ballot Campaign

Gone are those halcyon days of yesteryear when the Humane Society of the United States would concoct a crafty and original Internet campaign for each of its state-based laboratory experiments.

Compared with just one election cycle ago, the current HSUS efforts at "direct democracy" seem mass-produced.

Let's call it "factory ballot campaigning."

Just look at the websites for "Ohio Humane" and "Missourians for the Protection of Dogs"—both of which could easily be renamed "Stealth Carpetbaggers for PETA's Agenda":

Having a little déjà vu?

Both the Ohio website and its Missouri sibling are owned by HSUS. (The web domains were created within three days of each other.)

What's going on here? Will HSUS soon inundate both states with the same professional signature gatherers it engaged for Proposition 2 in California? And just how scalable is this politics-by-assembly-line model?

We picture Wayne Pacelle and an army of animatronic clones delivering identical, synchronized fundraising speeches in 30 states during the 2012 election season. Of course, when one of the speakers unexpectedly goes off his teleprompter, starts stammering mechanically, and moves his arms in a robot-like fashion, the jig will be up. (But we'll still never know which speaker was the real Wayne.)

Maybe we'll get lucky and both of this year's HSUS ballot measures will lose by the same exact margin.

It could happen.