Male Gaze: Clay Aiken, Hopeful Congressman

Photo: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Clay Aiken, the American Idol contestant who became famous in the early aughts for his renditions of songs like “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” announced today that he will run for a congressional seat in North Carolina’s second district. The singer-songwriter seems pretty serious about trying to change his image: Not only has he ditched his youthful, bleached-and-spiked hairdo (he is probably the only person alive for whom this is not an improvement), but his campaign video is a very earnest attempt to distance himself from his golden-ticket days. “For most Americans, there are no golden tickets, at least not like the ones you see on TV,” he says soberly, proclaiming his status as an all-American Everyman and bipartisan Democrat. To be fair, it’s not his first time dabbling in politics: According to his video, he served on a “presidential committee to address the educational challenges of children with special needs” under President Bush.