Casual Web surfers who click on Obama-Biden.org or Obama-Biden.com might assume they'd find information about the Democratic presidential ticket.
They'd be wrong.
Both addresses divert people to a website that is harshly anti-Obama, the website of the American Issues Project.
That's the newly formed nonprofit group that flooded cable television in the battleground states of Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania with ads decrying the relationship between Barack Obama and William Ayers, a founder of the radical Weather Underground who is now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
It wasn't clear who is behind the trick. Christian Pinkston, spokesman for the American Issues Project, said his group had nothing to do with it.
Loyola Law School professor Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert, said he came across the "political cyber-squatting" while exploring Internet domain names linked to Obama and Biden. "I wanted to see if the campaign was quick enough to snatch up the domain names," Hasen said.
As for websites including the names of John McCain and Sarah Palin, the McCain campaign seems to have snapped them up, possibly to protect the Republican candidates against a similar ploy.
But the Democrats aren't the only victims of cyber-tricks.
McCain-Romney.com doesn't bring you information about McCain and Mitt Romney, who had been under consideration as a running mate. Instead, it leads to the "official home of the Hundred Year War . . . and Bush's Third Term!"
Then there is McCain Pawlenty.com, a domain using the name of another also-ran vice presidential choice, Tim Pawlenty, governor of Minnesota. A visit there finds a for-sale sign:
"Lightly used Internet domain name in like-new condition.
"Used only by senior citizen with dial-up modem."
-- Dan Morain