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Mr. Obama has been lampooned in the press for saturation coverage of his recent trip to the Middle East and Europe, and the fawning reactions he has received from audiences both in the U.S. and overseas.

The McCain folks say Mr. Obama brought the scrutiny upon himself.

“It’s not our campaign that’s trying to make him into an international celebrity; it’s his campaign,” said McCain campaign manager Rick Davis. Asked whether they intended the comparison to the two celebrities, who are usually portrayed as frivolous and draw negative coverage, Mr. Davis said it was “apples to apples.”

Mr. Obama is the cover story of the current issue of People magazine, and his eight-page spread in the magazine is immediately followed by a story detailing Lindsay Lohan’s relationship with her new girlfriend, Samantha Ronson.

But Mr. McCain has been dragged into the celebrity culture himself. A surprise endorsement from MTV reality show actress Heidi Montag earlier this year morphed into a much-publicized meeting between Miss Montag and Mr. McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, earlier this month.