Bill Lambrecht, Post-Dispatch

WASHINGTON • It’s unclear where it started, probably in blogging land.

But it stuck, and across the internet the actor and U.S. Senate candidate-in-waiting is being compared to the former Missouri congressman in this shorthand: Is Ashley Judd the Democrats’ Todd Akin?

Her supporters rebut the analogy vigorously, but it’s a certainty that if Judd continues on her path to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., in 2014, her past remarks would put her under Akin-like scrutiny.

National Journal’s headline on a story yesterday read thusly: Is Ashley Judd a 30-second ad waiting to happen?

The piece by Jill Lawrence observes that Judd, an activist on women’s issues and other matters, has uttered incendiary things like: “The era of the coal plant is over.”

That might not be the most prudent campaign platform in the state that ranks third in coal production.

Judd, 44, has no qualms about talking publicly about rape. She has spoken of being a three-time rape survivor, and offered comments that some might find inspiring but others in a red state like Kentucky could find hard to digest.

Akin enters the picture again in the recounting of her response to his fateful remarks last August about “legitimate rape” and the female capacity to ward off rape from pregnancy.

“At any time, in any relationship, at any age, and in any place, rape is rape,” CNN reported her saying at the Democratic National Convention last year.

“If we make medically accurate sex education available to boys and girls and women and men, and we make modern family planning available to them, (then) we prevent unintended pregnancy,” she said.

Another account said she recalled her work on behalf of women in Congo, remarking that “most of them conceived in rape” — and then made a “gesture” regarding Akin.”

Judd’s supporters contend that women especially would appreciate her straight talk. And rather than a Hollywood loose cannon as cast by her detractors, they see her as a thoughtful, committed professional who took the time recently to get an M.A. from Harvard.

Provocative or not, Judd surely likely would elevate the Kentucky contest to the marquee Senate race in 2014.