The Fog of Ohio and the Politics of Celebrity

"GMA" stopped by Pymatuning Valley High School in Andover, Ohio, during the show's "Whistle-Stop Tour" countdown to the November election. Students and faculty gave Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, Chris Cuomo and Sam Champion a big Buckeye welcome, including a pep rally in the school gym. Click here to check out students' video coverage of the event.

brad paisley
Brad Paisley joined the GMA Whistle-Stop tour in Ohio and performed a few of his hits.


Remember yesterday when I told you that today's show was going to be amazing? I love being right.

Despite heavily diminished visibility due to fog, the show was fantastic and, along the way, I got to interview country superstar Brad Paisley. Not a bad start to a day.

We rolled up to the northern Ohio farm while the sun was trying desperately to rise and the dark bluish hue that precedes it seemed to be soaked into a thick layer of fog that had settled over endless corn stalks. Where yesterday the house and barn of the Lipps family, who owned the farm, had been readily visible, today only corn in front and fog behind.

But the scene was so serene and Midwest idyllic that I half expected a team of phantom baseball players to emerge from the stalks to play catch with me, a la Field of Dreams.

Of course I don't remember the scene in the Field of Dreams where the Secret Service frisks everyone.

After the interview with Sen. John and Cindy McCain ended, the secret service packed up quickly and the Straight Talk Express rode off into the foggy sunrise. The whole place seemed to breathe a sigh of relief just to not have scary Secret Service guys around anymore – you always feel like you're doing something wrong.

So while the anchors went off to try delicious home-cooking recipes and play tractor-pull games (which Chris won, I hear), I slipped into Brad Paisley's tour bus to ask him a few questions about being a celebrity during an election.

These days you can't watch television for too long without seeing a celebrity endorsing a candidate, begging other people to do the same or making their own political statements, but Brad Paisley will not soon be one of them.

"If [celebrities] go and try and pretend that they have a better idea than the general public about who should be elected or maybe have the attitude of 'I'm a celebrity so I'm going to tell you what I think and what you should be thinking,' then that is very offensive to me and to a lot of people," Paisley told me.

"I'm one of the celebrities that believes that people can make up their own mind."

And even though he was on "Good Morning America" just minutes after Republican presidential candidate John McCain, Paisley says he's not political himself.

"I'm not the smartest guy in the world about politics," he said. "I don't follow it that close."

But due to the genre of music he's in, Paisley said that it's easy to be mislabeled.

"We have all this perception that country music is completely, heavily right-leaning, when I think there's a lot more of moderation in our town, especially in Nashville. What they confuse for Republicanism was mostly support for a war."

"It's almost like once you get past any reasons for a conflict, we're always going to be there for these troops."

Just because he's not politically oriented, however, does not mean that Paisley is oblivious to the issues facing the nation. He believes, rather, that many of the big ones – the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the troubled economy and environmental consciousness – are all connected by black gold.

"My biggest issue is oil. I want to see us figure out the next big thing," he said. "There are a lot of things you can do, but the sooner we can get off of [oil], I think it helps everything."

And with that I left, but I didn't go too far.

I just blended in with the other hundreds of people that had come out to this farm in middle-of-nowhere Ohio to hear him sing.

I just threw out a few "I love to drink pop," and I was in.

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