Jewish World Review Dec. 8, 2003 / 13 Kislev, 5764

Bill O'Reilly

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Bush and the stars | You may have heard that some Hollywood types are organizing to unseat President Bush next year. So what, you say. What can these people really do?

Well, they've got money, No. 1. Far-left billionaire George Soros has pledged $10 million to a group called "America Coming Together," which is recruiting celebrities like Julia Louis Dreyfuss, Rob Reiner and Mike Farrell to spread the anti-Bush word.

But money is not really the issue here, access is. Here's what's going on. Right now only about half of the voting age population in America actually votes. And for Americans under the age of 30, the percentage is far less than that. The anti-Bush forces believe if they can reach young Americans, they can boot the president out. But the only way to connect with many of those people is through entertainment vehicles. And that's where the celebrities come in.

Increasingly, singers like Bruce Springsteen and the Dixie Chicks, to name just four, are using their venues to talk up liberal politics. So are other performers like Sean Penn, George Clooney and Susan Sarandon. While promoting their films, they drop anti-Bush grenades that millions of people hear. The message is getting stronger and louder: Bush is a menace.

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This strategy will become even more organized and intense in the coming campaign year. The danger for Republicans is that only the anti-Bush side will be heard, as many entertainment venues do not actively seek political balance. Let's take a look at the landscape.

— Jay Leno is a fair guy and books people on all sides of the political spectrum so there's no problem here.

— David Letterman is a different story. Since Labor Day, for example, his guest list has included far more liberal thinkers than right-leaning people. The anti-Bush people will have support on this program.

— The network morning programs are hosted by people who are primarily socially liberal, but these shows do present a wide variety of guests. However, conservatives are usually challenged harder and celebrities are mostly given soft treatment. The Democrats have an advantage in the morning.

— "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" is a liberal funhouse, but right-wingers with a sense of humor are welcome, so this venue is a political wash.

— Oprah wields enormous power but does not get involved with partisan politics much. However, she will allow celebrities almost free reign. Advantage: Hollywood liberals.

— "The View's" ladies take a decidedly liberal approach to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but they are not exclusionary. You can get a contrarian point across on the program, but you'd better be quick.

— The late-night gabfests like "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" play to their young viewership, which means the mean, old Republicans don't have a chance there.

So if liberal entertainment people really invest some time and effort, it might be bad news for President Bush. We are living in a time where perception is reality and impressions are formed from rank propaganda and outright deception. A flood of anti-Bush celebrities on the chat shows could help the Democratic candidate big time, and the GOP really has no answer. Can you imagine Dick Cheney dishing with Star Jones?

The left-wing sharpies see an electoral potential in the young vote, and they believe they've found a way to tap into it. Seven hundred votes decided the last presidential election. This time, Letterman is good for at least that.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of, most recently, "Who's Looking Out for You?" Comments by clicking here.

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© 2003 Creators Syndicate