Editorial by John Ziegler

Where Have You Gone Gary Hart?

2/22/2002 1:58:25 PM

Where Have You Gone Gary Hart?

Humans have been lying since the first caveman realized that his "wife" might believe him if he claimed he was just out hunting mastodons with some of the guys. But I am beginning to believe that it has it never been easier to get away with a deception than it is in 21st Century America.

In just the last few weeks, the number of people and institutions that have been caught in clearly fraudulent behavior is almost staggering, and yet few, if any, appear close to suffering any real consequences. Sure, those who deceived at Enron look like they are in the midst of taking a well deserved fall, but what about their accounting firm, Arthur Anderson, whose business is built almost entirely on trust? Why do they have a "shred" of credibility remaining?

The Olympic figure skating scandal has been partially uncovered, but did that lead to the games losing any of their prestige or standing? Hardly. The television ratings, especially for figure skating, are exceeding all expectations and, somehow, everyone seems to be pretending that the huge stain on the Olympics' supposedly pristine reputation has conveniently disappeared.

The Catholic Church is embroiled in an enormous child molestation scandal. Despite clear evidence of a prolonged cover-up, no one is yet to resign, and the Church itself does has not experienced the instant crisis in credibility that one might reasonably expect when a group claiming to do the work of God is found to be so utterly corrupt.

The highest grossing movie of 2002 is "A Beautiful Mind." It is professes to be based on the true story of John Nash. However, the movie and the actual life of John Nash have about as much in common as the American and Australian versions of "football." While I have spoken to many people who were profoundly disappointed when they learned that most of the movie is not rue, they only seemed more determined to go buy the biography of John Nash (which, oddly enough, now comes with Russell Crowe's face on the cover).

Celebrity historians Stephan Ambrose and Doris Kerns Goodwin have both been forced to admit to multiple acts of plagiarism. That used to be a death sentence for a writer, but no longer. Look for Ambrose and Goodwin to be back on a cable news network near you very soon. After all, how can an esteemed historian be expected to write all of their own stuff when they have to spend so much time being a celebrity?

Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota has announced he is running for a third term. He got elected originally on a pledge to only run twice. The news media does not seem to think that is such a big deal, but I guess there is still hope that his constituents might.

Locally, Congressman Jim Greenwood has done Wellstone one better. He got elected by promising only six terms, but is already announcing that this one (his sixth) likely won't be his last. It does not appear as if he will even have a Democratic challenger this fall.

Meanwhile, Senator Robert Torricelli has apparently escaped credible charges that he took bribes. Of course, we will probably never know for sure because the investigation has been stunted. Just two weeks ago, Torricelli stood on the Senate floor and passionately declared, "There is no limit to the lengths that I will go to assure accountability in this government!" I am not making this up.

It is not just that lying is, in the post-Clinton era, going remarkably unpunished (or even noted), but "old" liars, thought to have been relegated to permanently "dishonored" status are suddenly being allowed to make disturbing comebacks.

Al Sharpton (slander), who is always welcome on TV, is apparently even running for President. So might Joe Biden (plagiarism). Jesse Jackson (mistress/child cover-up) has already been completely forgiven. Marion Berry (too many to list) may be running for D.C. city council. Gary Condit (where is Chandra?) is still running for congress. Dr. Laura (those aren't my naked pictures on the Internet) still has her radio show and gets asked to speak at conservative conferences.

Geraldo Rivera (lied twice about his reporting in Afghanistan) was never punished by Fox News and is now safely back home. Mike Barnicle (fired for plagiarism) is now on national television. Joe Klein (I didn't write "Primary Colors") is, once again, a "respected" journalist. Ray Lewis (lied to police about a double murder) gets asked to record patriotic TV messages to our troops. Even O.J. Simpson (you know) is slowly beginning to be permitted to peak his head out of the mole hole of disgrace that he had dug for himself.

It wasn't too long ago when a public figure's career could be virtually ended with just one "good" fabrication. I often wonder how Gary Hart or the surviving member of "Milli Vanilli" must feel when they realize that just a few years later no one would have cared about their "little" lies. After all, the former Donna Rice is now given more media credibility (as an anti-pornography activist!) than Hart receives, while Britney Spears regularly lip-synchs during "live" performances.

As Don King (a man also known to mock the truth) might exclaim, "Only in America!"

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