Judging from the staged, silly photo ops flashing across our screens, this election is looking like $300 million down the drain to Rex.

Read a transcript of this Rex Murphy episode

What a Waste!, April 7, 2011

So this is the election we couldn't wait to have – the election that could not be put off for another minute.   I suppose the question we all have to ask is: do you think it's worth 300 million?  Well, from where I sit it surely is.  The imagery alone is better than anything I've seen – and about the same price - since, well, Avatar.

Here, for example, is Michael Ignatieff lugging around a six pack of beer in a Newfoundland liquor store.  I think that's Quidi Vidi light if I read the case correctly.  And what a giddy, cheerful little politico he is, especially around a plateload of hotdogs.  Who would have thought the Count of Stornoway would have such earthy taste?  Beer, hotdogs heaving on the Ketchup.  If we catch him loading up on the boston creams we should at least make him an honorary serf.

I'm going with these two Harper pics as the most informative of the campaign so far.  The first one:  who knew that Stephen Harper had a little piece of an extremely embarrassed Dale Earnhart trapped inside him?  When people see Stephen Harper on an ATV, they are surely, as with one voice, going to say: now that's a guy we’ve GOT to keep indoors, in an office, full time, away from anything with wheels and a carburetor.

And this:  I'm really not sure what to make of this picture ... is he signalling with that collapsed smile that he's been kidnapped possibly by the Greens?  Or is he suiting up to do a little bit of security work at one of his own rallies?  "May I see your Facebook ID, young lady, and please stop twittering."

What has seized Gilles Duceppe's anguished attention here?  An impertinent chablis, a brusque merlot?   Or maybe he's just found out – oh horror - the vino came from some ... Ontario winery.   A slap in the face to Quebec.   A "bold, pert, presumptuous slap in the face from the north side of the vineyard", but a slap in the face nonetheless.

There's a very tranquil one of Jack Layton, which speaks to his campaign style, his quiet manner.  He appears to be questioning this bag of oranges, or having a Zen moment with the fruit, though I'm sure he's really just trying to figure out why his handlers have brought him to a fruit stall and what possible political point he's supposed to make of it.  Mr. Layton, consider – you're not in a bowling-ball helmet onboard an ATV.  This is good for you.

Long after the issues that they haven't talked about have been forgotten, and long after the platforms no one reads have been smothered in dust.  Long after the pre-scripted debates have drifted from memory, the images will remain.  The family scrapbook of the 2011 election, worth 300 million? Avatar redux!  You betcha.

For The National, I’m Rex Murphy.