The theme in this year's Super Bowl ads was going to be people in their underwear.
Three companies were touting their Super ads to USA Today, talking about how showing people wearing only their skivvies in inappropriate settings is the next big thing.
Renee White Fraser, an "advertising psychologist," extolled the move as a "provocative -- but safe -- way to get viewer attention."
"People love to imagine other people in their underwear," Fraser told the paper.
She must not have taken a bus lately. It's ugly out there, lady.
Fraser is actually the chief executive officer of an L.A. advertising agency who has a degree in consumer psychology. But I suppose part of her job is therapeutic -- she helps clients rationalize the abuse of good taste in the name of profits.
While the gross-out ads from Dockers, Bud Light and CareerBuilder.com will break some meaningless boundaries by bringing "Old School"-style humor ("We're streaking!") to Family Hour television, the real Super Bowl controversy is over the ad staring former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.
Focus on the Family, the Colorado-based Christian group led by James Dobson, is paying big bucks -- perhaps $3.2 million -- for a 30-second spot featuring Heisman Trophy winner Tebow and his mother, Pam.
In 1987, pregnant Pam Tebow and her husband, Bob, were in the Philippines as missionaries when she contracted dysentery. Doctors believed that the disease would result in the death of her baby and that a fruitless childbirth might kill her too.
But mother and son survived. After years of home schooling, Tim Tebow went on to become 240 pounds of All-Southeastern Conference, football-slinging whoopass with Bible verses written on his cheeks.
The point of the ad isn't to pass a bill or defeat a candidate who believes women have a right to elective abortions, but to encourage women to "choose life" when faced with desperate options.
News of the ad had a predictably Pavlovian effect on the Left. Since the spot combines many of the elements that the "educated class" most detests about America -- frank expressions of Christianity, pro-life advocacy, home-schoolers, football hero worship and the South -- they were incensed that cash-strapped CBS would take Focus on the Family's money.
Jehmu Greene, head of the Women's Media Center, is leading a drive to punish CBS for airing the ad, which she claims is "sexist."
A little decoding is necessary here.
In terms of Super Bowl ads, "sexist" is code for "anti-abortion." But "sexist" does not apply to parading women around in their underpants to sell beer.
The ad comes at a troubling time for the Left on the issue of television spots.
Many liberals have given into their worst fears about a recent Supreme Court decision lifting restrictions on third-party political ads.
Democrats are warning that the elimination of the ban on outside advertisements will mean that big bad companies will spend billions to brainwash Americans into voting for Republicans.
That a pretty cheeky claim for a party so deeply in the thrall of big business that Wall Street and Big PhRMA seem to have veto power over major policy decisions.
Democrats' real fear is that the current crooked game, in which incumbents of both parties can milk corporate or union political action committees for contributions in exchange for access, is in jeopardy.
They're right about that.
The Supreme Court decision means that anyone who can get the dough together can try to influence the outcome of elections.
While big companies will be leery about damaging their brand through political advocacy, groups on the Left and the Right will surge onto the airwaves trying to elect or defeat politicians.
The Tim Tebow ad is especially upsetting for the Jehmu Greenes of America because it is a foretaste of the kinds of spots that will be rolling out this fall as endangered Democrats stand for re-election.
In a society that has almost no restrictions for the prurient use of sex and violence to sell products, it seems odd that political speech would invite restrictions.
In today's fractured and invasive media world, we are constantly under assault by dangerous messages produced solely to enrich their creators. Even so, we are still mostly managing to bear up under the barrage.
Isn't it time to give Tim Tebow's team a chance to play the game?
Chris Stirewalt is the political editor of The Washington Examiner. He can be reached at email@example.com