I’ve got a question for the marketing gurus now filling the airwaves with ads asking — no, make that pleading — for us to vote “yes” on the racinos proposed in Biddeford and Washington County:

When do we get to see the Beautiful People?

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against Joe Goudreau and Jeff Young, the two somber-faced contractors who assure us that the construction jobs sprouting from Question 2 will put “clothes on kids’ backs” and “help guys feed their families.”

Nor do I dare quibble with Ernest Lovell, the ruddy blacksmith from Scarborough who promises, just before pounding out a horseshoe, “If they don’t know anything about a horse at all, there’s going to be jobs for them.”

And those talking heads on a downtown Biddeford street who manage to repeat the word “jobs” five times in 30 seconds? Genuine Mainers every one.

But someone’s got to say it. Down-to-earth as these good folks may be, they are not the Beautiful People.

The Beautiful People, you see, come later — after voters have approved the racinos and the marketing message morphs from “Jobs, Jobs and More Jobs!” into “Slots, Slots and More Slots!”

Surely you’ve seen these well-heeled winners in the incessant TV ads for Hollywood Slots in Bangor, the state’s only up-and-running racino. But for those who reflexively switch channels at the sight of them, let’s go to the tape:

Well-dressed, middle-aged guy tosses his keys to valet. Herky-jerky music blares as middle-aged guy and his wife (at least we hope she’s his wife) sashay into the racino along with a younger couple and three snazzy-looking young men …

Announcer: There’s no place like Hollywood!

Close-ups of slot machines … a woman hits the jackpot and whacks her husband in the shoulder. Hubby winces, but keeps smiling …

Announcer: From the newest slots to blockbuster jackpots and all the excitement you can handle!

More slot close-ups … two pretty young women high-five … three gorgeous young women dance together in front of the bar and then cuddle in a booth to take their own picture …

Announcer: This is where you’re in the spotlight! You’re the star!

More slots … more winning … more drinks … middle-aged woman does a dainty fist-pump and mouths the word “Yes!”

Announcer: A place where the action never stops and the night is always young! Hollywood — the name says it all!

Brightly lit Hollywood Slots marquee … more close-ups of slots … fade to black.

Whew! It’s enough to make you want to roll up your quarters and move to Bangor — if only to get a job parking the Beautiful People’s cars!

But it also raises a few questions about the current Question 2 television campaign:

Where are our Beautiful People?

Where, for that matter, are the slot machines?

And where’s all the fun waiting for southern Maine just around the corner from Election Day?

“I don’t think we’re trying to hide anything,” said Crystal Canney, spokeswoman for the pro-racino ballot committee Putting Maine to Work, in an interview Thursday. “Look at our ads that are on the air and the amount of TV time we’ve bought. Everyone knows what we’re about.”

Not from Putting Maine to Work’s campaign, they don’t.

Truth be told, slot machines are the last thing promoters of Question 2 want us to think about when we head for the polls on Nov. 8.

They want us to envision the jobs — 800 to build the racino and 500 to run it — that they promise (but don’t guarantee) the $120 million project will generate.

They want us to envision what they call a “destination facility” — including a hotel, a spa, a first-class restaurant and shuttle buses for those who want to visit downtown Biddeford. (Trust them, Biddeford will become noticeably more beautiful once the racino starts spinning off municipal revenue.)

They even want us to picture an “equine center” near the yet-to-be-built harness-racing track. That, according to Canney, would be “an area where the horses graze so that people can have an appreciation for them as a beautiful animal.”

Beautiful animals? We’re taking about a racino here, not the Maine Wildlife Park. What about the Beautiful People?

Canney patiently told me I was missing the point and I needed to take a “broader view” of what’s going on here.

She also told me that the slots facility, assuming Question 2 passes, “is not going to be the central draw for people.”

Right. Just like the Beautiful People in the Hollywood Slots ad were all born, bred and eventually went broke in Bangor.

What makes the whole Putting Maine to Work campaign so, dare we say, deceptive is that Question 2 isn’t about a hotel, a resort, shuttle buses or a field for beautiful horses — all of which could be built tomorrow without the time and effort of a statewide referendum.

It’s about slot machines. And it’s hard not to be at least a little skeptical when those who are pushing the project seem so reluctant to even mention the word “slot,” let alone show one actually emptying someone’s pocket.

“We feel we’re very clear with the word ‘racino,’” said Canney. “We feel the public is well-informed on what a racino is.”

Fair enough. But if slots spin off so much pure, unadulterated fun — and the Beautiful People up in Bangor clearly look like they’re having a blast — why not use that to promote Question 2?

Replied Canney, “That just wasn’t the direction we went in.”

Then perhaps neither should Maine.

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at: [email protected]