Ready, Set ... <i>AD WAR !</I>

Struggling in a tight race in the polls, GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush has unleashed a new attack ad which openly mocks his Democratic rival, Vice President Al Gore.

CBS News Correspondent Phil Jones reports Democrats quickly returned fire about the ad, which Bush approved for air on the same day that the Texas governor talked about clean politics with young people in Kentucky.

"Politics doesn't have to be ugly and mean. It doesn't have to be a system that downgrades people to try to lift somebody up," said Bush.

But starting Friday, the Republican National Committee (RNC) will start running the Bush-approved ad - the most negative and direct attack yet on Gore. The RNC ad - which will air in 17 states - features a TV on a kitchen table. An image of Gore at the Buddhist temple in California flashes across the screen, as well as the vice president speaking about campaign finance reform.

"Oh, there's Al Gore, reinventing himself on television again. Like I'm not gonna notice," says a woman's voice in the ad. "Who's he gonna be today? The Al Gore who raises campaign money at a Buddhist temple - or the one who promises campaign finance reform?"

And the 30-second ad ridicules Gore's claim about the Internet.

"I took the initiative in creating the Internet," says Gore in a clip from a 1999 interview with CNN that runs in the ad. "Yeah, and I invented the remote control, too." retorts the woman in the RNC spot.

The TV-in-the-kitchen motif was used in a GOP ad that Bush had pulled from TV stations last week. That spot pictured a 1994 interview in which Gore defended his own and Clinton's veracity, an image that even GOP officials said unfairly brought to mind the 1999 impeachment trial.

On Thursday, the Gore campaign immediately seized on the ad that Bush approved.

"Governor Bush's promise to change the tone of American politics has run into reality of a troubled Bush-Cheney campaign," said Gore's running mate, Joe Lieberman.

Those words from the same Sen. Lieberman who in a 1997 hearing lectured three nuns who were involved in the 1996 Buddhist temple fund-raiser that Gore attended.

"This testimony today, I must say, I've found in large part very perplexing and troubling," said Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, during that hearing.

This week has turned into the nastiest week of the campaign yet. Gore has gotten in Bush's face for not having a detailed prescriptpion drug plan.

"It's kind of put up or shut up time," Gore said on the campaign trail.

And Bush has responded in kind.

"It just doesn't sound very presidential," said Bush of Gore.

The RNC ad comes at a time when Governor Bush has dropped in the polls and he is struggling to get off the defensive. Republicans say polling shows that voters have serious concerns about Gore's credibility. The Democrats had planned to release their own new ad attackin Bush's record in Texas, but now they've decided to hold off - hoping the Republican ad will backfire on Bush.