Watch out, Obama, you're the one acting like a swine.
WHOOPS - did Barack Obama just blow his chances of becoming the next American President?
Obama told supporters: "You can put lipstick on a pig, and it is still a pig."
He insists the crack - apparently a wise old American saying - was a reference to tired Republican policies.
His opponents insist it was a reference to John McCain's lipstick-loving running mate, Sarah Palin - The Perminator.
Obama has used the phrase before. So has John McCain. The difference is that Obama wheeled out the pig-in-lipstick jibe mere days after Palin had joked that the only difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull is lipstick.
Obama may not have meant to call Palin a pig. But, coming so soon after she put her shiny lipgloss on the map, that is exactly and emphatically what it sounded like.
A lot of American women will despise him for that. And men too. I found his remark offensive, and I hardly ever wear more than a touch of lipstick.
It would not have been so bad if Obama had defused the controversy with grace and humour. But for the first time he looks rattled, wrong-footed and angry. And, as he rails at "phoney controversy," for the very first time he resembles a loser.
Obama no longer dominates the American election. The starring role has gone to Sarah Palin, an old-fashioned conviction politician. You can laugh at her for her belief in God, guns and apple pie. But you can hardly question the sincerity of those beliefs.
Palin receives enormous stick for being anti-abortion. And yet she is bringing up a child with Down's syndrome, a child she could have had aborted. She practises what she preaches - what a breath of fresh air after George Bush, the warmonger who hid under a bar during the Vietnam War.
Raising a son with Down's syndrome takes a lot more courage and heart than running off to the abortion clinic. But even Palin's decision not to abort her Down's syndrome baby is being attacked by some Democrats.
The head of the South Carolina Democrats says that Palin is a woman, "whose primary qualification seems to be that she hasn't had an abortion."
Wow. Dragging Palin's Down's syndrome child into the political bear pit is offensive, cheap and - above all - incredibly bad tactics. It makes the Republican Party seem like the good guys. Which is the nasty party now?
Smear tactics go both ways. Barack Obama has had slime chucked at him ever since he looked like a contender. But none of it - his wife's alleged lack of patriotism, his Muslim heritage, the dodgy associates in his past - really stuck. Until now.
Good luck to Palin. Most politicians, on both sides of the Atlantic, are so bland. And most are removed from the real world.
But Palin is about to pack her son off to fight in Iraq. Can you imagine George Bush or Tony Blair sending their child to the war they started?
Nobody ever lost an American election by being too fond of God, guns and apple pie. But there is more to Palin than that. Unlike most politicians, The Perminator walks it like she talks it. We could do with some of that over here.
UNLIKE MOST POLITICIANS, SARAH PALIN WALKS IT LIKE SHE TALKS IT