Election 2012: 12 Celebrities Who Went Into Politics (GALLERY)

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Back in 2008, during Barack Obama's meteoric rise from obscure Illinois Senator to the presidency, rival John McCain's camp criticized him for seeming too much like a celebrity. The complaint made little sense. After all, Americans -- and especially Republican voters -- love voting celebrities into public office.

It all started with a movie star who first won office as president of the Screen Actors Guild, then parlayed that experience into public office in California and then Washington, D.C. No, not Ronald Reagan. It was George Murphy, who became a U.S. senator from California in 1965, two years before future president Reagan became governor of California.

Since then, several actors have discovered that there's a revolving door between Hollywood and Washington, one that involves more than just being a donor or an activist.

Interestingly, most actors-turned-politicians are Republicans. Maybe they just find Washington more hospitable than overwhelmingly liberal Hollywood.

Here's a gallery of some of the most successful celebrity-to-politician transformations. Check them out and ponder, as the election approaches, the kind of charisma that makes both moviegoers and voters swoon.

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