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Spotlight On Stars On Election Day

In the U.S., we've had a president who used to be an actor (Ronald Reagan), a California governor who used to be movie star (Arnold Schwarzenegger), and a Minnesota governor who made his name as a professional wrestler (Jesse Ventura).

So when celebrities get involved in politics to support issues near and dear to their hearts, it should come as no surprise. To see a photo essay, click here.

Just about everyone knows that stem cell research became the signature issue in Missouri after actor Michael J. Fox, suffering from advanced stages of Parkinson's disease, starred in ads for Claire McCaskill's Senate campaign. She backs a proposed state constitutional amendment that would ensure stem cell research is allowed in the state. Incumbent Sen. Jim Talent recruited his own celebrities for a counter ad, including St. Louis Cardinals baseball player Jeff Suppan.

Meanwhile, a fiercely competitive race for a California congressional seat got a jolt of star power when actress Jennifer Garner headlined an environmental rally dedicated to ousting Republican Congressman Richard Pombo. Garner said the battle between Pombo and Democrat Jerry McNerney was "a fight bigger than the 11th district… This is a fight for our land and natural heritage."

Her husband, actor Ben Affleck, made an appearance at the University of Connecticut campus at Storrs, Conn., on behalf of Joe Courtney, the Democratic nominee for Congress from Connecticut's 2nd District. Affleck told the Journal Inquirer he had been planning to make similar appearances on behalf of a few other candidates, including Sen. Christopher Murphy, a Democrat from Cheshire who is running against U.S. Rep. Nancy l. Johnson, R, 5th District.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, a noted environmental activist, rallied in California for Yes on Proposition 87, along with Julia Roberts, James Caan, Geena Davis, Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Proposition 87 would add a tax on oil extraction to fund research into alternative energy. Singer Bonnie Raitt performed at a Yes on Prop. 87 rally in San Francisco a week before election day.

In the meantime, Robert Redford has added his celebrity touch to those urging California voters to reject a sweeping eminent domain initiative. In an e-mail sent to more than 172,000 members of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Redford described the eminent domain proposition as "the single most dangerous threat that has ever been leveled at our state's environment."

Put on the November ballot by property rights activists, Proposition 90 would amend the state Constitution to make it harder and more costly for governments to condemn property or pass regulations that affect land values.

Paul Newman, Redford's buddy on and off-screen, lives in Westport, Conn., and he has been featured in television and radio commercials on behalf of Ned Lamont, the Greenwich cable company executive challenging U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman. "It's tough times out there, and Connecticut needs someone who is young, fresh, and spunky," Newman says in one of the TV spots.

Actor George Clooney is among those who took part in the filming of a public service announcement for, an anti-poverty organization. The message is designed to urge viewers to vote to fight global AIDS and Third World poverty. The PSA also features Don Cheadle, Alfre Woodard, Julia Roberts, Toby Keith and NFL quarterback Tom Brady. The 30-second spot is narrated by Matt Damon as the camera pans down a line of celebrities and regular Americans waiting against a spare white wall for their chance to vote.

Comedian and author Al Franken has been campaigning in his home state of Minnesota for 1st District Congressional candidate Tim Walz, and in New York, pop songwriter John Hall, whose hits in the '70s included "Still the One" and "Dance With Me," is challenging Republican Congresswoman Sue Kelly, who has represented New York's 19th Congressional district for 12 years.