- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2000

Burger battle

"Al Sharpton has a beef with Burger King. 'We will hold the lettuce, hold the cheese, hold the Whopper, until we get our way,' he declared on Sept. 19 before announcing his plan to boycott the fast-food giant's New York City restaurants. The reason for the boycott? Sharpton contends that after Burger King promised in 1996 to award more than 100 new franchises in low-income areas to an African-American entrepreneur named La-Van Hawkins, the company withdrew the deal. And, according to Sharpton, it's not just Hawkins who's suffered from Burger King's 'corporate racism.' 'La-Van is just the tip of the iceberg,' Sharpton declares. 'In New York there are 30 minority-owned McDonald's and one Burger King.' Burger King, for its part, calls its conflict with Hawkins a 'business dispute' — the company claims Hawkins owes more than $6.5 million on a 1998 loan — and defends its record on minority franchise ownership.

"So far, so predictable. Except that Burger King has an unlikely ally in its battle with Sharpton: Jesse Jackson. Last month Jackson sent Sharpton a stiff letter warning that a boycott might be counterproductive… .

"Sharpton's allies are quick to point out that Burger King has backed Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition for nearly 20 years; according to the company's estimates, it has given Jackson's group roughly $500,000."

— Eli Kintisch, writing "Uncivil Affair," in the Dec. 4 issue of the New Republic

That's entertainment

"Famous people are deceptive. Deep down, they're just regular people. Like Larry King. We've been friends for 40 years. He's one of the few guys I know who's really famous. One minute he's talking to the president on his cell phone, and then the next minute he's saying to me, Do you think we ought to give the waiter another dollar? …

"I don't feel an obligation to give everyone a hard time, but when they're important people, it's fun. I've met every president since Gerald Ford. When you go in the reception line and they announce your name, they all look at me the same way. They all go, Oh, noooooo! You can see it in their eyes. They're like … he's gonna say something! Here I am … and the president of the United States is cowering. Now that's entertainment!"

— Don Rickles, interviewed by Mike Sager in the January issue of Esquire

Hollywood hypocrisy

"Talk about picture-book weddings. The stunningly beautiful actress Catherine Zeta-Jones recently married movie star Michael Douglas at the Plaza hotel in New York. From the beginning, this May-December romance had been fawned over by the likes of Barbara Walters and other 'journalists' committed to the idea that attractive people are profoundly interesting. When the actual wedding day arrived, it was for many countries a media event outshining even America's electoral turmoil. The event cost millions; the dress alone reportedly cost $250,000. The 350-person guest list included Walters, of course, as well as a Who's Who of Hollywood liberalism: Steven Spielberg, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg, Oliver Stone, Goldie Hawn, Jack Nicholson, et al. After the Perrier-Jouet champagne reception, the guests dined on lobster and lamb prepared by Donald Trump's personal chef. The five-tiered wedding cake caused no less than Martha Stewart to exclaim, 'Wow! Look at that cake!' …

"Naturally, there's nothing wrong with spending money or enjoying the finer things. But it does seem worth pointing out that many of those in attendance are famously committed to the plight of the common man and to opposing the influence of greedy corporations. Of course, nothing says 'solidarity with the proletariat' like a lobster-and-champagne fete cordoned off by a ring of guard dogs, armed 'ushers,' and metal detectors."

— Jonah Goldberg, writing "Just Like Ozzie & Harriet," in the Nov. 20 issue of National Review

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