ABC News’ Devin Dwyer reports: Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, who turns 53 today, is trending high in the Google-sphere, but not for the reasons he’d like.
Daily Show host Jon Stewart revived Santorum’s so-called “Google problem” last night on his show, encouraging viewers to search ‘Rick Santorum’ and see what they find.
The top results are a less than flattering mix of links to web sites that associate his name with a sex act.
“Santorum might as well change his last name to lemon party,” joked Stewart.
The search results have been the fixation of gay rights advocates since 2003, when blogger Dan Savage mobilized online supporters to create a new definition for Santorum after he publicly compared gay sex to pedophilia and bestiality.
Using a network of cross links and by driving up “clicks,” the activists have succeeded in keeping their definition at the top of search returns.
“There's no better way to memorialize the Santorum scandal than by attaching his name to a sex act that would make his big, white teeth fall out of his big, empty head,” Savage said at the time.
Santorum, who has said he believes homosexuality will “undermine the fabric of our society,” has acknowledged the controversy but sought to downplay its significance.
“It’s one guy. You know who it is. The Internet allows for this type of vulgarity to circulate,” Santorum told Roll Call's Steve Peoples in February. “It’s unfortunate that we have someone who obviously has some issues. But he has an opportunity to speak.”
At the first Republican presidential debate in South Carolina last week, Santorum presented himself as the leading social conservative candidate, opposing same-sex marriage and abortion.
"A lot of people out here can check the boxes and say they have conservative positions, but I've led on life and marriage," he said. "I've got the arrows in my back from the mainstream media to prove it."