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by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

For years one of the myths perpetrated by the Lords of Loud of the Right is that if you have conservative values or skew right, you have no chance in Hollywood.

This past week in a forum sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, perhaps the Rightest of the Right think tanks, with Clarence Thomas and Rush Limbaugh in attendance, executive producers of the hit show "24"' were asked by Limbaugh if they were snubbed by Hollywood liberals for producing a "pro-America" show. Joel Surnow and Bob Cochran said the answer was "no," and Surnow, who has shown up at his share of conservative events, acknowledged the show's audience includes those of all political persuasions, including Barbara Streisand and Donald Rumsfeld.

Limbaugh immediately called for all talk show hosts and conservative pundits to discontinue throwing around fraudulent suggestions that anyone who doesn't lean left is dead wood in Hollywood. (Quickie Test: Guess which previous sentence was untrue.)

I have never bought into the Right's "Republican equals Hollywood shut-out" claims any more than I believe seventeen-year-old mustard gas is why we went into Iraq. Now, if Rush, Sean and Bill O would have slammed Hollywood for bias against over-40 writers or any film script that had my name on it, then I might be tuned into Fox News more often for my information.

The main speaker at the Heritage Foundation forum was Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff. He spoke of the differences between Fox's "24" and the actual counter-terrorism work.

In "24," President Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin), approved the supplying a Russian madman with poisonous WMD. In real life, it was President Reagan who authorized Rumsfeld to shake hands with and supply an Iraqi madman with WMD.

In "24," Logan had his predecessor killed. In real politics, you don't want to make a martyr out of someone your supporters can continue to pummel with much more venom if alive. It's very tacky to demean the dead.

In "24," the President was not really in charge as much as some dark, maniacal figure who fed him diabolical instructions from some hidden bunker. That's the only similarity.

Chertoff made sure not to mention that extra-super-duper agent Jack Bauer might have handled Katrina better than he or Michael Brown did. Especially when there's a good chance Kiefer Sutherland himself could have done a better job. But it would seem that Chertoff, President Bush or, for that matter, anyone who may want to create something special, might want to take a tip from some of the show's writers.

When I interviewed the "24" producers for the WGA's "Written By" magazine, I was told that when stuck, their creative tactic was to ask "what could never happen," and that's exactly what would happen. (I'm usually wrong when I try to predict the plot twists, and keep stopping TIVO to describe my latest inept calculation to my wife. She just loves that.)

But give them credit: It's hard coming up with unlogical thinking. "24" is a hit because Surnow and Cochran have mastered the art of opposite. It entertains us. But even they are overshadowed by the grand champ opposita -- Ann Coulter.

War heroes are cowards and traitors. Widows of terror victims are greedy witches. All critics are enemies of the state. Who isn't mesmerized by her upside-down view of the world? We eagerly await what crazy thing she will spew next.

Coulter is the horrific fifteen-car pileup we sit impatiently in a ten-mile long line of traffic, damning whatever caused the thirty-some minute delay, then when reaching the crash site, slow down to see every gory detail -- adding to our own delay -- all the time shaking our heads in despair at the blood and twisted metal strewn over the highway.

So, in effect, if you are reading this, but still find it an unnecessary tumor on the body America, you may be suffering from the media affliction that Ann discovered long ago and is smart or devious enough to exploit...Coulter Rubbernecking Disorder (CRD)

Face it. If Ann were not as disgusting as she is, we would be disappointed. And publishers, radio and TV execs are well aware of CRD. It's not their desire to give her a platform. It's our desire to see her, albeit like we want to see the evil WWF wrestler beaten. But despite getting pummeled by our hero, somehow the bad guy will cheat and come out at the end with the championship belt and a fatter wallet.

So, while you might want to write and say how pieces like this only gives a small benign spot on the lung more opportunity to become a malignancy, forget it. Just by reading this, you already supplied humanity with the next cigarette.

It's not your fault. You've got CRD.

Steve Young, author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" and the forthcoming "15 Minutes" (Harper Collins). Steve's column can be read every Sunday in the LA Daily News Op-Ed page (right next to Bill O'Reilly)

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Albion Monitor   June 23, 2006   (

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