Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Reefer Commercial Madness

Marijuana makes you pregnant!!!!!

That's not a line from the 1938 propaganda piece, "Reefer Madness." It's the shock message of a 2003 commercial that you helped pay for. It ran during the Super Bowl as part of the anti-drug campaign from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, meaning it cost two point one million taxpayer-funded dollars.

And it's ridiculous.

In the commercial, a man and woman wait for the results of an early pregnancy test, and we're told that the outcome will change their lives forever. The upshot is that they're not about to find out that they'll be parents, but that they'll be grandparents. The mom-to-be is not the woman, but their teenage daughter -- and we're told that she wouldn't have gotten pregnant if it weren't for marijuana.

I have no doubt that more than a few women of every age have gotten high, lowered their inhibitions, had sex with a guy, and ended up with a womb surprise. But I'd bet that many, many, many more women have had the same thing happen to them because they drank beer.

You'd never see that in a network TV commercial, would you?

Not during a Super Bowl in which the biggest advertiser was Anheuser-Busch, whose brilliant, creative advertising team produces the best TV commercials year in and year out, which helps them sell more and more beer. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that. Absolutely nothing.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a legalize-all-drugs kind of guy. I don't even think pot should be legal. What's so bothersome to me about this campaign is that it's part of the continuing hypocrisy that is our Failed War On Drugs.

Last year, to feed off our 9/11 paranoia, we were warned that when we buy drugs, we fund terrorism. A special interest group tried to point out that when we buy gasoline that's made from oil from Saudi Arabia, whose business leaders fund Al Qaeda, that we're supporting terrorism, too. But lost in that political argument is the question of which terrorists are getting funding from people who cultivate their own marijuana. That must be where the phrase "homegrown terrorism" comes from.

As a father, I want my daughter to learn about the real dangers of drug use. There are valid, important messages to impart about harder, much riskier drugs like crack, ecstasy, heroin, and meth. Instead, we get propaganda telling teens that their lives will be ruined when marijuana forces a fetus into their gut. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, since this concept is brought to you by many of the same people who don't want to teach kids about sex at all.

Ironically, the missed opportunity here is to tell teens an actual truth about pot. Stop telling them that they can get a big belly full of baby. Start telling them that they can get a big belly full of fat. Yes, I'm talking about the munchies! The number one side effect of smoking dope! The solitary reason that White Castle has to stay open 24 hours!

In that regard, the ONDCP could take a page from Anheuser-Busch's commercial for Bud Light, the one with the guy meeting his girlfriend's mother for the first time -- and she has a butt so big it looks like she's trying to smuggle Gwyneth Paltrow's character from "Shallow Hal" in her back pocket.

Now there's something an image-conscious teenage girl can relate to. Call it "Refrigerator Madness!"

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Bill Zehme

Bill Zehme, arguably the top celebrity profiler of our time, was on my show today to tell Paul stories about Regis Philbin, Albert Brooks, Barry Manilow, Sharon Stone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and his 20 year acquaintance with David Letterman and Jay Leno. We also traded stories about Leno's former pitbull manager Helen Kushnik.

Listen.

Zehme wrote about all of these people and more in, "Intimate Strangers: Comic Profiles and Indiscretions of the Very Famous." He has also written books about Sinatra, Andy Kaufman, and others.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Everybody Must Get Cloned

"We made a baby without a mommy or daddy!"

That's approximately the announcement made about a week ago by Brigitte Boisselier, the CEO of Clonaid, the group that claims to have cloned a baby girl named Eve from a 31-year-old woman.

Pardon my skepticism, but yeah, sure. And Anna Nicole Smith can fly.

I just wouldn't put my faith in a group that chose Clonaid as a name. It sounds too much like a bad fundraising concert from the 1990s, starring Devo, Hanson, Wilson Phillips, and the Nelson twins.

Of course, Clonaid hasn't yet offered us any evidence to corroborate their declaration and, as James Randi always says, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. In other words, we ain't buying it just because Brigitte says so.

But there she was, all over TV and the print media, flashing her toothy grin while announcing that her company had made history. One look at Brigitte and the first thing that crossed my mind was, what's with those teeth? She may have the worst oral hygiene since Austin Powers. She's the anti-Osmond. Her company should spend their valuable laboratory time investigating the use of fluoride. She'd be better off working on Brush-Aid or Floss-Aid.

She's not the only odd-looking one involved in this supposed cloning coup. There's also Claude Vorilhon, the guy who founded Clonaid in 1997. He's also the bald-guy-with-a-ponytail (always a clue!) who founded the Raelian religion, based on an encounter he claims to have had with a friendly visiting alien on the side of the road in France back in the 1970s (check out his cult's website for the audio version of that story -- it's a scream, complete with cheesy music and mysterioso voiceover).

According to Claude, all of us on Earth -- that's you, me, and Michael Jackson -- are all descended from clones the aliens brought here some 25,000 years ago. Claude's obviously wrong on that one, because Michael Jackson only became an alien after he took off the "Thriller" zombie makeup. Nowadays, no right-thinking alien would even consider claiming him as their kin (except for Trent Lott, who thought Michael could act as a role model by starting a whole new black-to-white skin-changing trend).

In the pictures I've seen of Claude, he's usually wearing a futuristic cross between a terry-cloth bathrobe and the kimono outfit that Spock wore in San Francisco during "Star Trek IV." Why do the guys with the alien stories always have the same fashion sense? Apparently, in space, no one can hear you scream "denim!"

The close-encounters types always have the same description of the alien, too. Of course, the visitors are able to converse in whatever your native tongue is, no matter where you are. Visually, the species that allegedly spawned us has almond-shaped eyes, hands with three fingers, a slow gait, no hair. Darwin was wrong! We're descended from Homer Simpson!

Claude said in an interview with the Miami Herald that this supposed cloning is just the beginning of his group's scientific breakthroughs. He expects that within 25 years, we won't have to bother with implanting the clone embryo in a woman, waiting nine months for it to be born, and then another 18 years for it to grow to adulthood. Instead, he claims that his scientists will be able to make an exact copy of an adult human in just a few hours and then -- get this -- download the thought patterns and memories of an older person and then upload them into the clone, thus creating eternal life. Excuse me for using yet another show business reference, but Claude must have seen Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie, "The Sixth Day," one too many times, because that's the plot right there!

I just hope we can do some editing during the memory transfer, because I made a really bad automobile purchase in 1979, and no one should have to live with that flashback. Not to mention the night in college someone talked me into eating a liverwurst omelet that was about the most horrible thing anyone has ever consumed (you won't be surprised to hear that some alcohol may have clouded my judgment).

Not surprisingly, Claude hasn't offered any proof of this cloning miracle, either. But even if Clonaid has accomplished the previously improbable, they wouldn't be the first to replicate the human form artificially. Just look at the half-dozen girlfriends constantly surrounding Hugh Hefner. Now there's the scientific equivalent of the Xerox copier.