For Chris Nandor, 34, an Arlington computer programmer, his moment of fame happened because of his "GOP Debate Song," a composition he didn't...

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It’s not so hard getting 15 minutes of fame, especially in these YouTube times where all it takes is a little luck and the right gimmick.

You can even be flown to Florida to a national presidential debate and get to sit in the fourth row, center section, right behind Chuck Norris.

For Chris Nandor, 34, an Arlington computer programmer, his moment of fame happened because of his “GOP Debate Song,” a composition he didn’t exactly sweat over. Nandor wrote it in less than half an hour.

But on Wednesday night, the song opened the CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate in St. Petersburg, Fla.

By late Thursday afternoon, the video had gotten 533,540 views on YouTube, not only because of the national TV exposure, but because it had been previously featured on the site’s home page.

“You just have to strike a nerve, for good or ill,” said Nandor, whose moniker on the site is “pudgenet.” (Nandor is a large guy, but he’s also a fan of the legendary Carlton “Pudge” Fisk, the great Boston Red Sox catcher.)

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper told the debate audience that the song “reminds us this is definitely a new kind of debate,” referring to how the Internet is driving political races.

Then on came the clip in which Nandor — in a black T-shirt, baseball cap and beard — strummed his guitar and sang.

The way Nandor later explained it, “I just kind of jotted down what first came to my head.”

He came to the attention of YouTube, he said, because he had submitted a bunch of questions on health care, Social Security and other subjects that he hoped would be asked at the Republican debate. (They weren’t.)

But it was also the two dozen songs he had posted on the site in past months that caught the organizers’ attention.

Some were covers of tunes by the Smashing Pumpkins and the Foo Fighters, and others were original political songs, such as “Osama bin Laden, You Ruined My Birthday” and “George Bush Is Hitler.”

The latter, said Nandor, was meant as a parody of people who make personal attacks on the president.

But it turned out some viewers took the song seriously, and in the comments-and-responses section for the song, Nandor was reduced to answering, “If you’re going to insult my mother, do it with proper grammar!!!”

Nandor was asked by a YouTube executive to submit a song about the debate. The site liked the song and posted it on the home page, and hundreds of thousands clicked on it.

YouTube then flew Nandor to St. Petersburg.

Other than family members, Nandor told only a few others about making the trip — people he worked with as chairman of the 39th District Republicans in Snohomish County, and fellow contributors to the Sound Politics blog.

Not until showtime did CNN commit to airing the video, which was then seen by 4.4 million viewers, according to Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

For Nandor, this was the second time around with a fleeting moment of fame.

In July 1999, he tried to electronically stuff the ballot box for Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game.

That year, the game was played in Boston, and Nandor, then living in Massachusetts, thought that Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra should beat out the Yankees’ Derek Jeter.

He used a computer program to cast 40,000 votes for Garciaparra.

But, as with his YouTube tune, Nandor didn’t pour a lot of sweat into the effort.

He used the same e-mail address, the same phone number (111-222-3333) and same ZIP code (11111) for each vote.

An Associated Press story back then said Nandor set his computer to run repeatedly and went to a barbecue. It didn’t take long for systems administrators to figure out the ruse and invalidate the votes (Garciaparra still won).

On Thursday night, Nandor was back home, greeted by his wife, Jennifer; two daughters, ages 1 and 5; two dogs, three cats, a hamster and a snail.

And he had this memory of his latest brush with fame, a moment Nandor said was his most memorable in St. Petersburg:

The debate ended, and Chuck Norris — a supporter of candidate Mike Huckabee who himself has become a cult hero because of the Internet — turned around and told Nandor, “It’s a real honor to meet you, man.”

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or elacitis@seattletimes.com