If dollars equate to democracy, the current presidential standoff between incumbent George W Bush and Senator John Kerry is the most egalitarian in history - with almost $600 million (€470.74; £327.06m) invested in TV and radio hyperbole.

Total campaign spend on the latest race for the White House is three times that of the election in 2000 - with contender Kerry marginally outspending his opponent, $250m to $240m.

In addition, lobby groups both on the liberal and conservative wings, have added to adland's coffers - the former contributing $70m on airtime, the latter $40m. No one appears to have counted the amount spent on other media channels such as direct mail.

Comments Evan Tracey, president of TNS Media Intelligence campaign media analysis group: "The story this year has been the sheer volume of ads. This is an election that I think changes politics."

Meantime, and irrespective of the electoral outcome, many onlookers wonder why the FCC and its Capitol Hill masters do not demand the same factual and ethical standards in political advertising that apply to commercial products and services?

"Politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians", pronounced General Charles de Gaulle. While those of a more literary leaning might cast their vote for e e cummings' maxim: "A politician is an arse upon which everyone has sat except a man."

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff