Remember when Cliff Clavin went on Jeopardy!?
The lovable know-it-all postman from Cheers was on a roll until he got to Final Jeopardy, and the clue was "Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwartz and Lucille LeSueur."
"Who are three people who've never been in my kitchen," Clavin answered.
And so it goes with the U.S. Senate campaign of Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Grimes gave her own version of Cliff's "kitchen" answer Monday morning, releasing a new television ad in which she shoots skeet and declares: "I'm not Barack Obama."
Where to begin?
While sure to generate some much-needed buzz for a campaign that is struggling to repel the narrative that McConnell is widening his lead in the polls, the ad feels like a retread.
And that's not because Grimes joins a long list of red state Democrats following in the 2010 footsteps of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., by firing a gun in an ad to prove their pro-gun bona fides.
It's because the ad is a continuation of what has become a central theme of Grimes' campaign: Telling voters who she isn't instead of telling them who she is.
For more than a year, Kentuckians have heard Grimes say in every conceivable way that she is not McConnell, with cursory efforts to introduce herself or what she stands for — a couple of bio ads and a jobs plan short on specifics.
Her television ads have been scattershot, dealing with McConnell's record on Medicare, raising the minimum wage, the Violence Against Women act, creating jobs and attending committee meetings, among other things.
Meanwhile, McConnell's portrayal of Grimes as an appendage of Obama found a receptive audience in the eastern and western parts of the state, and polling shows that McConnell has amassed enormous leads in those regions. (The latest Bluegrass Poll, taken in late August, gave McConnell a 27-point margin over Grimes in Eastern Kentucky and a 23-point margin in Western Kentucky.)
By traveling to fundraising destinations necessary but risky for a national Democrat — Grimes is returning to Los Angeles this month — and working the national media in an effort to court big donors, Grimes has aided McConnell's efforts to tie her to national Democrats.
Tied to Obama by McConnell and his super PAC allies, Grimes has seen her own favorable numbers drop with the president's. (She was viewed favorably by 38 percent of voters in late August, compared to 36 percent for McConnell and 29 percent for Obama.)
Grimes' lack of a voting record, once seen as an asset by Democrats familiar with McConnell's talents for turning records into millstones, was turned into a liability as Grimes failed to fill in the blanks and allowed McConnell to do it for her.
Now, trailing McConnell in every public poll, Grimes is hearing from a growing chorus of uneasy liberal Democrats who say she should go all-in on Kynect, the successful health insurance exchange implemented by Gov. Steve Beshear under the federal Affordable Care Act.
The liberal website Daily Kos, for example, ran a story on Sept. 8 headlined "Alison Lundergan Grimes should make the Kentucky Senate race a referendum on Obamacare and Kynect."
After her office opening in Covington on Saturday, Grimes was asked by Michael Monks of The River City News why she hadn't mentioned Kynect in general or during her remarks that afternoon.
She took a quick swipe at McConnell's promise to repeal the law "root and branch," briefly defended low-cost health insurance for half a million Kentuckians and immediately pivoted to blaming McConnell for the omission of Kynect in her message.
"There's 30 years of history to go through," Grimes said. "Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell has given us a lot to work with."
At this point, Grimes might have no choice but to avoid Kynect.
Selling the differences between Kynect and "Obamacare" is a difficult proposition when you're still trying to convince people that there's a difference between you and Obama.
There does appear to be some recognition of the problem, as suggested by the latest ad and noticeable efforts by Grimes to talk more about what she has done as Kentucky's secretary of state.
But even that appears to be an uphill battle, considering that Grimes' own internal poll shows her with a 38 percent job-approval rating. (That compares to McConnell's 32 percent approval rating in the poll, which showed Grimes leading McConnell in the race by 1 point.)
"What I've seen is that Kentuckians are overwhelmingly excited about the work that I've done as secretary of state in contrast to the 30 years of failed leadership that they've had from Sen. McConnell," Grimes said when asked about her lackluster numbers.
In other words, Grimes' numbers might be bad, but she is not McConnell.
And according to her new ad, she's not Obama either.
And she isn't Cary Grant, Tony Curtis or Joan Crawford.
The question now is does Grimes have time to tell voters who she is?
Cliff Clavin was technically right, offering Alex Trebek "conclusive proof" that none of those three stars had ever been in his kitchen.
But he still lost.