Just saw this in a blog entry at alternet:
One of the lawyers handling the case for the defendants (that is, defending the constitutionality of Prop. sent us a note recently[....]
Presumably, the blog software is set to automatically turn "8)" into a smiley icon. Cute idea, but perhaps a little overzealous.
I've seen this sort of thing happen elsewhere, in software that turns ":)" into a smiley icon. But a colon is much less likely than an 8 to appear just before a close-paren in ordinary English text.