The Alan Keyes Experiment
One man's attempt to conquer television and another man's attempt to watch.
11:01 PM, Jan 24, 2002 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Before tonight's show I went to the "AKIMS" website to see how they find their "People Just Like You." There's a form to submit with instructions that read: "If you are planning to be in the D.C. area and would like to be on the show, tell us a little about yourself (age, occupation, school, year, major), what you'd like to talk about, and when you'll be in town." Sort of like "The Price Is Right."
When I tune in, it's a couple minutes before 10:00, and Ashleigh Banfield is wrapping up. As she says, "And now, 'Alan Keyes Is Making Sense,'" she gets a pained expression on her face and looks off to the side. Maybe her glasses are pinching her nose.
The Fox mania is on full display as Keyes opens the show by mentioning Bill O'Reilly, but the topic for the night is whether or not the movies "Harry Potter" and "Fellowship of the Ring" are good for the culture. Keyes admits to being a big fan of Tolkien and says that he's seen the movie four times already. Full disclosure requires that I admit I'm going to see it for the fifth time tomorrow, but I am not bringing the gem dice with me this time.
Keyes's "Just the Facts" guest is Connie Neal, who wrote "What's a Christian To Do with Harry Potter?" They have an interesting talk about Plato and the influence of entertainment. They agree that some books and movies might be bad for kids, but that Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are fine.
The "People Just Like You" are the sharpest bunch yet and as a reward they've been allowed to go through make-up. It takes less than four minutes for one of them to bring up September 11, but in the end they all agree that Harry Potter and Tolkien are good. Guest expert Mona Charen concurs during her segment. She becomes the first person to bring up Keyes's failed presidential bids and coyly intimates that she voted for him. Random flattery should never go unpunished--we'll hold her to that in the future.
The call-in segment features another first when Tyler from Missouri calls in and tells Keyes that he, too, is a talk-radio host. It's like harmonic convergence. Get Liddy on line three.
Then Keyes gives us his parting thoughts, and he ends by showing a clip of O'Reilly, who is mocking The Sweater. Keyes laughs and does some towel-snapping of his own. He thinks he's joined the club. It's a little awkward because it's not clear that O'Reilly is laughing with Keyes.
And just like that, the first week of "AKIMS" is behind us. Savor it; there may not be many more.
Jonathan V. Last is online editor of The Weekly Standard.