In the late-summer of 1972 the Watergate break-in might have been passed off as a third rate burglary, but the killing machine of the Vietnam war was still going full throttle. Earlier that year Time magazine named both Nixon and Henry Kissinger "Man of the Year ... but they were war criminals. Why would anybody want to go to a party with Richard Nixon? My estimation of Peter Bogdanovich dropped not only a few rungs, but the whole damn ladder. Years passed and the "New" Hollywood of the 70's turned into the Hollywood establishment.
Some people I used to think were cool announced they were Republicans. After going through a list of actors who described themselves as Republicans, it reminded me ... again ... you don't have to be smart to be an actor. You just have to be able to memorize your lines. As much as I liked Dennis Hopper movies it became impossible for me to watch them when he came out and supported George W. Bush. It's one thing to be stupid ... but it was an altogether different universe when the director of Easy Rider supported a bona fide war criminal like Bush.
So yeah ... you could say I filter my entertainment through a partisan lens. I don't have the stomach lining to endure anything that reminds me of the god-awful nightmare kicked off by the Bush/Cheney regime while I'm trying to watch a movie.
I rarely watch broadcast television. Not because I'm some sort of elitist swine who can't abide entertainment for the masses ... I just can't take the commercials anymore. But I was willing to put up with 8 minutes of commercials to watch 22 minutes of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Until November 1, 2011.
His guest that night was Condoleeza Rice. She was flogging her new book, No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington.
Jon Stewart let her retell every single lie the Bush Administration used to invade Iraq and didn't call her on any of them. Before November 1, 2011 The Daily Show was one of the only television programs that repeatedly punctured the lies of the Bush administration. But on that Tuesday night Stewart proved he's like most guys worth 80 million bucks. For 15 million a year Jon Stewart will give Condi Rice a free pass. He makes fun of politicians but doesn't really mean any of it. If Stewart can stomach sitting across from Condi Rice listening to her rationalize a war of aggression, then he'd be capable of lobbing softball questions at Heinrich Himmler about the Holocaust.
I don't know what it's like to banter with a war criminal for a paycheck. I can't imagine sitting across from Rice, or for that matter, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush, or Dick Cheney, unless we're in all in a court room.
Maybe this is just another example of how I got to be this old and still retain a level of naivete I should have jettisoned years ago. But it is still surprising to look down and see the clay feet of someone I used to admire.
But what did I expect? The Daily Show is a business.
Comedy Central is owned by Comedy Partners, a wholly-owned division of MTV Networks, that is owned by Viacom, the world's fourth-largest media conglomerate. Comprised of BET Networks, MTV Networks, and Paramount Pictures, Viacom operates approximately 170 media networks reaching more than 600 million global subscribers in more than 160 countries. Jon Stewart is just a highly paid joke-monkey. And I'm not going to watch him anymore.
I'm going to print out this Michael Ellner quote and stick it on my monitor:
"Just look at us. Everything is backwards; everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the major media destroy information and religions destroy spirituality."
Reading that with my morning coffee is just the sort of grounding I need to start my happy day.