Sure, a bird dripping oil is a powerful image. But if you want your political spot to pack a punch, you gotta take it to the next level — say, a politician dripping oil. The Gulf spill, in a perverse way, has been a godsend for the makers of campaign ads — nothing says an opponent is a) slimy, b) dirty, or c) slick, than coating him or her with a crude patina.

Greasy come, greasy go: So it goes with the raft of new ads rolling out today in selected states, the phase one of an $11 million campaign sponsored the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, the Service Employees International Union, and VoteVets.org. Three negative spots take aim at senators — Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) — who supported Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) unsuccessful bid to block the EPA from controlling greenhouse gas emissions. 

One tells a simple story: Oily politician gets fished from surf. Oily politician flaps arms as he’s gently bathed. Oily politician may not be savable until he supports “clean energy climate legislation.” Take a look:

There’s also a feel-good ad — veterans getting hugged, wind turbines spinning, no sign of anything viscous — that thanks Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) for voting against Murkowski’s resolution:

Something for everyone:  The BP spill has already gushed into the middle of recent primary campaigns. Expect more oil in the months ahead. As Damien Cave, writing in the New York Times, points out, each party will have its own special spin on the disaster. 

Republicans say the spill is a lesson in incompetence: the Obama administration has fumbled, they argue, highlighting government’s failure not just with the oil, but also with the economy, the deficit, health care and war. Democrats in turn see the spill as a consequence of Republican ties to Big Oil and deregulation.

To get you in the spirit of things to come, here are some of the more memorable oil-stained ads out there:  

What did Brown do to you?  Massachusetts Scott Brown has been a senator for only a few months, but already he’s painted on himself a big fat bullseye for his world-class flip-flop on climate change. He takes a big hit in this recent ad from Americans United for Change:

Daddy, is that the Big Flipper? How could we leave out this pummeling of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). for his transformation into a climate wienie:

You won’t be sorry: Or this Democratic National Committee spot featuring Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) mawkish mea culpa to BP’s Tony Hayward:

Let’s do the Time Warp again:  You want surreal? Check out this clip (from a mere two years ago) with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Newt Gingrich sitting on a couch and getting all warm and fuzzy about the need to take action on climate change. It’s in black and white, like a sepia print from another time:

That’s about right.