Celebrities are back on the campaign trail for a certain political party — guess which! — the latest being movie star John Cusack.

Cusack is an actor who's acting as if he knows who we should vote for in the presidential race, featuring Barack Obama, who plans to fix the country's problems by giving lots of cliche-riddled, football-coach type speeches — "We've got to pull together!" — and John McCain, who plans to fix the country's problems by beating them into submission. (Not that he has a temper problem.)

Like most of the roles they play on screen, celebrities really get into the roles they play off the screen, studying for years to learn to play the part of being themselves. Some — teen divas, for instance — rarely get the part right.

In his latest off-screen character, Cusack plays the role of a political commentator who's utterly convinced that he's got some enlightenment that the rest of us don't have, even though it sounds straight from a script. (In one interview he actually used the term — I kid you not — "military-industrial complex.")

If you couldn't guess which candidate Cusack is endorsing, ask someone to hit you over the head with a weed whacker.

Cusack cut a commercial that will air on several cable networks in which he compares McCain and George Bush, and then concludes, "Bet you can't tell them apart."

He means this is a bad thing, not good.

Personally, I'm waiting to see what Paris and Nicole have to say before I make up my mind.

I can't remember the names of Cusack's movies, so possibly they were what we critics like to call "forgettable." But he does have name value and money, and that's enough to give him a forum.

I don't know why anyone would care what an actor thinks about anything beyond movies, but I do find it entertaining when celebs try to pass on their wisdom — if you'll pardon the overstatement — whether it relates to a political candidate, the environment, marriage and parenting advice, or other political causes. Of course, they lost me when Sheryl Crow made a plea for everyone to use only one square of toilet paper per visit to the restroom. I'm all for a clean environment, but hands and bottoms come first, sorry.

Anyway, as I was saying, I enjoy when celebs offer advice to the unwashed masses because essentially what they're saying is this: "Sure our personal lives are train wrecks, but let us show you the best way to live and think."

Despite the trappings of drugs, alcohol, divorce attorneys, money, visits to the Betty Ford Clinic, infidelity, paparazzi and so forth, they believe they have much wisdom to pass on.

Kate Hudson, Patrick Dempsey, Snoop Dog and Madonna, for instance, have all dished parental advice. Madonna once told KulturSpiegel magazine that she won't let her children watch TV or eat candy because, "Children need limits, otherwise they go off the rails."

Besides that, Madonna would run the risk that they will see Madonna on TV. Madonna knows all about limits because of course she stomped all over them. Wonder if she's gotten around to showing the kids her "Sex" book with all the nude and erotic photos of herself. And when it comes to limits, does that apply to using four-letter words on Letterman and being willing to do anything for publicity?

Jessica Simpson once offered marriage advice and reportedly was offered $1 million for a marriage advice book. Uh, this was before she divorced Nick Whatshisname. Looking for more marital advice from the Fidelity Capital of the World? Will Smith and Kate Hudson have dished it out, among many others.

Usually, the maturity level of a movie star seems to be at least a decade behind the rest of the population. How many times do we read about an actress or actor starting a family for the first time somewhere in his or her late 30s or 40s gushing about the joys of parenting and a stable marriage and family life and spending time with the kids and blah blah blah, as if she or he just discovered cold fusion. Yeah, the rest of us figured all that out, oh, somewhere shortly after college.

A few months ago, Sylvester Stallone, tossing aside medical evidence to the contrary, recommended that everyone try human growth hormone. "HGH is nothing," Stallone told Time magazine. "Testosterone to me is so important for a sense of well-being when you get older. Everyone over 40 years old would be wise to investigate it because it increases the quality of your life."

Vegan diets, toilet paper, the environment, politics — you name it, celebs have the answers for you. "I know my opinion doesn't matter more than anyone else's, and I just make films," Cusack told AP.

If nothing else, he got that right.


Doug Robinson's column runs on Tuesdays. Please e-mail [email protected].