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Jewish World Review Sept. 20, 2000 / 19 Elul, 5760

Mona Charen

Mona Charen
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Consumer Reports

Questions and answers --
WHAT about that kiss?

It is widely assumed in America these days that women went into a collective swoon for Al Gore when he kissed his wife. But there is apparently no evidence to support this. A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll asked whether people were familiar with The Kiss. Only about 50 percent said yes. Of those, 27 percent of women, but only 20 percent of men, thought it was spontaneous. Seventeen percent of women and 24 percent of men thought it was a "planned"political move. That ain't much to go on.

All we know for certain is that prior to the political conventions over the summer, very few voters were paying attention to the campaign. Now they are. Gore's sudden success may be the result of emerging from Clinton's shadow, or the carefully scripted portrayal of him as a family man, or his laundry list of new federal programs (recall that Bill Clinton's State of the Union addresses, which Gore's speech resembled, were always highly popular with the American people.) But to say that it was The Kiss is without foundation.

So what's the deal with Wen Ho Lee?

President Bill Clinton has declared that what happened to Lee is inexcusable. Isn't this president in charge of the government that prosecuted him? Obviously, the president does not personally direct every prosecution by every U.S. attorney in the nation. But this was a special case involving grave matters of national security.

Are we to believe that when months of news reports and several congressional investigations revealed a frightening security lapse at our nuclear research labs (and elsewhere), the president did not use his office to discover the truth of what happened? Did he not call a meeting in the situation room of the White House with federal investigators to discover what they had on Lee? (He did.) And if the evidence seemed scanty, why did he permit the prosecution to go forward, to say nothing of remaining silent during the nine months Lee sat in solitary confinement?

Also, when asked whether his Chinese ancestry might have anything to do with Lee's purportedly unjust prosecution, the president allowed as how he was "quite troubled" by the Department of Justice's conduct and planned to speak to Attorney General Reno about it this week.

The guy is all class. After everything Janet Reno has done for him, the president is not above suggesting that she was moved by racial animus in the Wen Ho Lee case. And why does he take the extraordinary step of impugning the integrity of his own attorney general? Only to avoid the accusation of racial insensitivity. (BTW, it serves Reno right for serving such a serpent in the first place.)

After revelations that Hollywood studios routinely target the marketing of violent and sexually explicit movies to young children, how did the moguls react?

Most shrugged it off like a mosquito. Unlike the heads of tobacco companies, who lined up like clay pigeons for irate lawmakers to shoot at a couple of years ago, the heads of Hollywood studios rebuffed Sen. John McCain's invitation to explain themselves at a hearing last week.

But Danny Goldberg, president of Artemis Records, did appear on a number of talk shows to defend Hollywood. Asked whether his statement that "millions of people like it" justifies marketing everything imaginable, Goldberg was dismissive, answering, "This is a very diverse country."

Pressed to say whether violent imagery and obscenity have any effect at all on behavior, Goldberg was firm. There is no connection whatsoever, he insisted. But when asked if he would market Eminem (who sings about raping his mother, torturing women to death and similar themes for another label), Goldberg budged just slightly. He said he did understand those who dislike Eminem, "especially because of some of his anti-gay comments."

There it is, Hollywood morality in a nutshell: Croon about raping your mother and torturing women slowly to extend their screams, and we'll stick by you -- especially if you make money. But slander gays at your peril, fella.

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© 2000, Creators Syndicate