The Magazine

On Al Sharpton, Snoop Dogg, and more.

Jul 7, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 42
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The Jurisprudence of Elvis

Poor Dick Gephardt. Summoned to Chicago to appear, along with all the other dwarfs, at a bow-and-scrape "forum" of Democratic presidential hopefuls sponsored by Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition on June 22, Gephardt merely did what he was supposed to do. He bowed. He scraped. Specifically, Gephardt, a well-informed and reasonably intelligent person, made a series of whatever-you-want-I'll-give-it-to-you-twice pronouncements that no well-informed and reasonably intelligent person could possibly believe.

For instance: Asked what his White House would do were the Supreme Court to rule affirmative action unconstitutional, Gephardt said this: "When I'm president, we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing that the Supreme Court does, tomorrow or any other day."

Here in Washington, this is being treated as a gaffe of the revealed-ignorance variety: Doesn't Gephardt know that presidents are legally powerless to countermand Supreme Court decisions about the meaning of the Constitution?

Actually, yes, we're pretty sure Gephardt does know that. We're pretty sure, in other words, that his remark reflected cynicism, not stupidity. And cynicism is plenty bad, and worthy of criticism, don't get us wrong.

But why pick on Gephardt, we wonder? Just within the past two months, at least two other Democratic presidential wannabes have said something remarkably similar, and neither of them, in the process, appeared any less cynical--or smarter--than Gephardt.

Item the first: The Rev. Al Sharpton, who unleashed the following gem at a Children's Defense Fund conclave on April 9, according to a transcript on their website. If the Supreme Court overturns Bakke, Sharpton offered, "I would by executive order use as much of my presidential power to try to enact programs, and I would welcome someone to then bring me to court so we could reargue this case, and if we had to argue it over and over again, we'd argue the case, because if we had given up with Presley v. Ferguson, we'd have never got to Brown v. Board of Education."

Also, without Presley, there could never have been the Beatles.

Moments after Sharpton's howler, Sen. Joseph Lieberman disclosed what he would do in response to a Supreme Court ruling invalidating Bakke: "As president of the United States, I would do everything I could in my power to introduce and pass legislation that would make it legal and constitutional once again for America's colleges and universities to have affirmative action programs. That's the American way."

It's the "American way" for presidents to send Congress legislation enacting programs that the Supreme Court has determined violate the 14th Amendment? In that case, President Lieberman could propose legislation providing federal agencies with separate bathrooms for black people. Funny thing, too: We wouldn't have figured the senator for a Presley man. He always seemed more the Perry Como type.

Ho Diversity

Civil rights activist/gangsta rapper Snoop Dogg has struck a blow for . . . "ho-kind," we guess you'd call it, ending his association with the "Girls Gone Wild" video series. All installments of which feature the same basic plot: boy meets dangerously intoxicated girl; boy persuades intoxicated girl to let him film her while she performs an act of indecent exposure; boy wins fruitless lawsuit later brought by sobered-up girl and her horrified family back home. Needless to say, these videos have proved an astonishing commercial success.

So why is the host of "Girls Gone Wild Doggy Style" walking away from the franchise? It's a matter of principle, dammit: The "Gone Wild" project's exploitation of women, Mr. Dogg has decided, is just plain wrong--at least insofar as the videos fail to provide their audience with what the Supreme Court might call the educational benefits of fully diverse student bodies. "If you notice," observes Dogg, "there hasn't been no girls of [ethnicity] at all on one of these tapes. No black girls, no Spanish girls--all white girls, and that [stuff] ain't cool, because white girls ain't the only ho's that get wild."

And that ain't no [stuff].

In other crisis-of-conscience news, actor Jason Alexander, who parlayed his amusing TV turn as Jerry Seinfeld's annoying friend into an annoying TV turn as KFC's unamusing chicken pitchman, has been dismissed from that latter job. Msnbc.com's Jeannette Walls reports that KFC took exception to Alexander's recent emergence as a poultry rights activist.

The animal-liberation group PETA had threatened protests after it was announced that Alexander would begin appearing in a Broadway show. Whereupon Alexander made a startling, life-and-morality altering discovery: Turns out that KFC chickens, before they become Honey BBQ whatnots, are first killed, dismembered, breaded, and plunged into boiling oil. Who knew?