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almost famous enough
by lee anne ramsey

I was reading an article this morning in the International Herald Tribune about how Dick Cheney, on a "high" from a rally in Mississippi, invited reporters on his campaign plane to join him for a glass of wine. And I flashed back to the movie "Almost Famous," when the Philip Seymour Hoffman character tells the young teenage journalist William that he should never become friends with the rock stars. That he should always remember to keep his distance and objectivity.

(If you haven’t seen the movie, then I’m going to give away a plot point. Skip the next paragraph and get thee to a theater to see this movie. It’s really good.)

For the balance of the film, William does exactly what he's not supposed to do: He becomes friends with the band, idolizes them, sees them at their worst and then writes the truth about it. Of course, in the end, the band denies the entire story to the fact-checker at Rolling Stone. Disillusionment for William, but the rest of us knew it was coming.

I feel the same way about the media in this presidential election: their latest infatuation with the Republican ticket is a little like William's infatuation in "Almost Famous." Hanging out on the plane and on the campaign trail with the candidates is a little like hanging out on the bus and on the concert tour with a cool band. Lots of time to waste listening to self-aggrandizing propaganda from the candidate/band, and very little in terms of reality.

For years, we've heard about the "liberal news media" and how they trash the Republican ticket while boosting the Democratic candidates. However, this election has caused me to literally throw things at the television in a manner I usually reserve for NFL football games. No one seems capable of reporting the truth during this campaign, and barely any reports from the traditional media outlets tell the full story.

I won't reiterate what many alternative journalists have already written on this issue (see Salon.com for some well-written ones), but I will say that I cannot BELIEVE that no one has revealed that the emperor has no clothes. I cannot believe we are considering someone who thinks governing a screwed-up state like Texas is qualification to run the United States of America. I cannot believe a man who got lower scores on his SAT’s than me will make decisions that could directly affect my life. And I do know that half the reason he is even close in the polls is because, on a personal level, middle America "likes him better."

That's right - Presidential Race / Homecoming King Race. It's one and the same.

Numerous people have said they don't like Gore's manner of "talking down to them." Well, you know what? He is probably smarter than 80% of the people in the nation, and I am 100% okay with that. I would HOPE so, as he is running to be the Numero Uno public figure and leader of the free world. I would HOPE he is 80% smarter than us. Unfortunately, just as everyone hates that smart guy who ruins the curve, people don’t like Al Gore. I don’t want to accept it, but as election day comes closer, it apprears true.

Bush, on the other hand, is the kind of guy people would like to chat with over a beer. He's approachable. He has a low vocabulary. He’s on the football team. He doesn't understand all those whacky international issues that no one else understands and can’t pronounce those funny names of world leaders either. I read today that, not including trips to Mexico, George W. Bush has only been out of the country three times in his adult life. Yeah, he’s just who I want leading an international diplomacy meeting. Bush and Cheney are the kind of guys who want to come off as "regular Joes" - despite the fact that Bush is the son of a former President and Cheney used to be Secretary of State. They’re just "regular Joes" like the rest of us, only pushed into performing their civic duty because it's their time to take a turn and it’ll look good on their college applications.

Obviously, I think Bush is a moron. And I disagree with him on just about every single issue. Though the problem is that the average middle-class American is buying his crap, the truly absurd part is that JOURNALISTS are buying his crap. People who should absolutely make their best efforts to report objectively are falling in love with the idea of being a politician themselves. They hang out over cocktail peanuts with a guy who might become president, fly in a cool jet, get cool gifts from the candidate and get lost there. (Did you hear that Bradley gave all the journalists who followed him around a nice fruit basket when he quit his run? Awwwww.)

Just as William got lost thinking he was cool and actually had a chance with Kate Hudson, those dopes reporting from "the campaign trail" checked their brains at the door. They are living in a fantasy world spun by a candidate who will undoubtedly destroy all the intelligent and effective social, economic and international policies put into place by the Democratic administration of the past eight years.

They’ve bought in to it, and now the country is in danger of having a half-wit as president. Come Nov. 8, just like William, the American media is going to get a big fat wakeup call and find out that the guy in the band wasn't ever a true friend. They will feel used. And they will be right.


Lee Anne is a frustrated "contributing writer" to the Tufts Daily who has never gotten over getting dissed for a column. As a result, she feels the need to write long, somewhat amusing emails to friends and occassionally submit articles to small publications. During the day, she contributes to "what's wrong with this country" by producing television and radio commericals that make you think you are fat, skinny, hip, unhip, old, young, smart, stupid, grown-up, or just a kid again - depending on which products you buy. Her parents are real proud.

more about lee anne ramsey


joe procopio
11.1.00 @ 11:36p

Nader. Nader. Nader. I just saw him on Hardball and he rocked!

BTW, can we get another common prefix for my name other than "regular" or "average?"

travis broughton
11.2.00 @ 12:28a


travis broughton
11.2.00 @ 12:38a

(feelomg compelled to contribute something other than a flip response to Joe so as to avoid derailing this topic...)

I'm not particularly thrilled with any of the candidates, but I do agree with the perception of Gore "talking down". The problem is empathy -- something that Clinton has which never quite rubbed off on Gore.

Despite his appearing dumb, I do get the feeling GWB can empathize with me. Not that that's all it takes to run a nation, but I think it is a big part of it.

Living in Texas I'm inclined to vote Nader as a protest vote -- at least it will get the Greens some funding next time 'round.

adam kraemer
11.2.00 @ 9:26a

Cup o'?

In Texas, by the way, I have no problem with a Nader vote.

I think the only good thing that could possibly come out of a Bush presidency is that I can picture him doing so badly that the American people vote for the Democratic candidate for the next 20 years. Kinda like Israel's creation as the bright side of the Holocaust.

jael mchenry
11.2.00 @ 9:28a

Several things:

a) I don't know, travis, I liked your flip response to joe a lot better than this "empathy" business. I don't care if Gore can't understand my pain. At least he understands foreign policy. Bush ain't gonna be doing much with his empathy when he's slashing taxes for the superrich and stacking the deck in the Supreme Court.

b) Hank Stuever wrote a brilliant article last week on how the US is like a high school girl trying to decide between two cute boys. Check it out on washingtonpost.com.

c)Bush stands a chance. Sigh.

joe procopio
11.2.00 @ 9:30a

Speaking of... Nader was asked last night by a town hall participant if he endorsed vote trading and he flatly said he did not. The follow up question was: "If it comes down to a difference between two votes for Gore and one for you, wouldn't you rather have that vote?" Without hesitation his answer was "No. Not that way." and then quoting someone I can't remember "The only lost vote is vote not cast out of conscience." The guy is straight up. No matter who you vote for or why, vote your conscience people. The rest will work itself out. I'm going to go vote now and I encourage everyone to do the same.

adam kraemer
11.2.00 @ 10:21a

Joe - you know today isn't election day, right?

Oh, and the rest will not work itself out. Nader's a bad politician if he's not willing to sacrifice a vote to avoid a conservative catastrophe. Sometimes compromise is the order of the day.

travis broughton
11.2.00 @ 10:27a

I was just going to ask about that election day thing. Here in Austin we have had the polls open for a couple of weeks. I can vote at Albertsons on my way home from work, and will probably do so today or tomorrow (I need to familiarize myself w/ the candidates for local office first). I take in Joe's area is doing something similar?

And Jael, I personally care more about domestic issues (thus empathy) than foreign policy at the moment, although recent terrorist actions (and changing of trade sanctions) have reminded me that foreign policy did not die with the cold war.

I'll abstain from commenting on taxes.

joe procopio
11.2.00 @ 10:30a

What? Today's not election day?

Nah. I don't know if this runs across all states but here in NC we have no excuses early absentee up until tomorrow. I lied though, I forgot about an 11:00 meeting and the wait at absentee is 2 hours. I will vote this afternoon. The rest will too work itself out. Sometimes, political processes take the long road. And Nader is a lousy politician, but he has good ideas and tells the truth. If Gore can't win with Nader in the race, we should still think twice before sacrificing a legitimate shot at a sensible (see: not Reform) third party.

adam kraemer
11.2.00 @ 10:36a

Oh, I agree. I'm all for a third party (and a fourth party, and a fifth party), but I don't think, with everything that's riding on this particular election (gun control, abortion rights), that this is the time for political experimentation.

joe procopio
11.2.00 @ 11:09a

BTW: Not to mislead, when I say "we should still think twice," I mean "one should still think twice." I'm trying to not endorse anybody on this site. And I've got to clarify that there is no difference between the two on gun control (from the third debate) and Bush has repeatedly stated that he doesn't want to overturn Roe v. Wade and in effect it wouldn't even be possible. Again, not defending Bush, just trying to clarify from what I've heard. There's always time for political experimentation, it's the only check and/or balance in the system.

lee anne ramsey
11.2.00 @ 12:10p

Joe, sorry for the slight. How about "Average Janes"??

Also, to the empathy point, I think my cat empathizes with me when I want to sit on my couch after a long day, but I certainly don't think that qualifies Winston for President.

Travis, please tell me you are kidding about the polls being open for weeks in Texas.

lee anne ramsey
11.2.00 @ 12:11p

(Certainly not "Average Jaels")

travis broughton
11.2.00 @ 2:14p

Nope, they've renamed "absentee voting" to "early voting", and they're also testing out electronic polling. It's pretty cool. I think the idea of having only one day to vote in person but weeks of mail-in absentee is silly and dated anyway. See Early Voting in Texas" for more info.

The polling locations for the early vote are interesting, too -- no campaign propaganda in Albertsons because it is now officially a polling place. I almost complained about the NYTimes being on sale there, because it contained op-ed piece officially endorsing Gore...

adam kraemer
11.3.00 @ 9:41a

It's not like Gore would have a chance of winning Texas, though.

jael mchenry
11.3.00 @ 10:17a

My friends are sick of hearing me talk about this already, but the best piece of campaign coverage I saw this year was a Snickers commercial. You know, the guy's in the voting booth with a cartoon elephant on one shoulder and a cartoon donkey on the other. Nothing like a good piece of nougat-related propaganda to capture the aura of politicians.

joe procopio
11.3.00 @ 10:27a

"Sometimes I wear my dad's pants"
"I invented pants."

I love that ad. The only other really fun one came from Jon Stewart, which I stole and made as a tag but got the meter wrong:

I'm Dick Cheney
Yes, I'm the real Cheney
All you other Dick Cheneys
Are just imitating

That one's been in my head for two months now.

lee anne ramsey
11.7.00 @ 7:17p

I know you're probably not supposed to do this, but just in case there is any misunderstanding: in no way, shape, or form am I attempting to be "objective" in this piece. It reflects my opinion 100% and is not an objective piece of journalism.

Just in case anyone was wondering.

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