But as CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports, fiction has become reality in political campaigns across the country. The idea now is to catch candidates making mistakes and then post them on the Internet, where they can be seen worldwide with the click of a mouse on sites like YouTube.
Virginia Sen. George Allen has become the poster child for what can go wrong when a candidate gets caught saying something stupid.
"Let's give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America," Allen said.
"Macaca" means "monkey" to some. It's not a smart thing to call your opponent's campaign aide when he has a camera pointing right at you. It all wound up on YouTube, and the controversy paved the way for new charges this week that Allen has a racist past.
But Allen isn't the only politician who has been caught on tape. Florida Republican Tramm Hudson lost his primary this month after a video of him was posted on a political Web site.
"I know this from my own experience that blacks are not the greatest swimmers or may not even know how to swim," Hudson was heard saying on tape.
The video was posted on the Web on a Thursday. By Friday, the story was making headlines in the local media. On Tuesday, the once-unknown Tramm Hudson was already a punch line on "The Daily Show."
Hudson's political consultant, Dan Hazelwood, did his best to control the damage.
"What you see here is the political equivalent of a drive-by shooting," Hazelwood says.
Hudson may have shot himself, but his campaign believes the video was shot and delivered to the Web by his political enemies. It's a form of guerilla warfare that's now a fact of life.
"You got to have your person out there video taping the other side. You've got to have your staff traveling with you, taping them, and you probably got to have a backup in case one of them needs to run an errand. It's 24/7 now for everyone," Hazelwood says.
Including the candidate. Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh is running for president, and he has even joined the popular college site Facebook to woo young voters. But he also knows negative news can pop up online instantly, anonymously and cheaply.
"There's no such thing as opening off-Broadway anymore. It's all prime time, and it's all real time. So everything you say is out there for public consumption for better, and occasionally for worse," Bayh says.
It used to be that 90 percent of life was showing up. Well, not anymore. Ask Montana Sen. Conrad Burns, who was seen online while dozing. Now you have to stay awake, too.