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Buff or butt?

That's the new political question making the rounds in the wake of turbulence stirred up this week by the wet-suited Stockwell Day and his jet-ski caper.

Rival politicians have been churning out the one-liners ever since the Alliance leader photo-opped his way across Okanagan Lake to a postby-election press conference on a noisy watercraft.

Not to mention his abbreviated, form-fitting wet suit.

"Stock the Cocky Jock," chortled NDP Leader Alexa McDonough, as she assessed Mr. Day's escalating athleticism at her own media scrum yesterday. Later, she shortened the tag to just "Stock the Jock."

She didn't stop there.

"It reaches a point where people say: 'If I'd wanted a stunt man, I'd have voted for Evil Knievel.' "

Liberal wags offered: "There's a new Stockwell Day action figure coming out. Policies not included."

Not to be outdone, floundering Conservative Leader Joe Clark confirmed that he is unlikely to be donning a wet suit soon.

"I didn't bring my Sea-Doo," Mr. Clark chuckled as he began a speech to the National Club in Toronto yesterday.

Cartoonists, meanwhile, had a field day, letters to the editor heaped scorn and editorial writers tut-tutted Mr. Day for seeming to drown out the Alliance message with his loud mode of travel.

It was enough to make one wonder whether Mr. Day's high-profile stunt had backfired.

But political strategists called his antics a success.

"I think it totally worked," said Bill Tieleman, former communications director for former B.C. premier Glen Clark of the NDP.

"He was on the front page of just about every newspaper. So much of politics is about image. He showed himself to be relatively young, active and unafraid of taking on some interesting optics."