- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2000

BEVERLY HILLS Al Gore and Joseph I. Lieberman, who last week denounced Hollywood for peddling sex and violence to children, lauded the industry late Monday while collecting $4.2 million from stars who mocked George W. Bush.
The vice president and his running mate, the junior senator from Connecticut, gushed over entertainment figures who spent the evening deriding the Texas governor as a smirking, privileged idiot.
"Al and I have tremendous regard for this industry," Mr. Lieberman said at the posh mansion of supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, a friend of President Clinton's.
"We're both fans of the products that come out of the entertainment industry not all of them, but a lot of them," he added. "The industry has entertained and inspired and educated us over the years."
Mr. Lieberman downplayed any role he and Mr. Gore might play in cleaning up Hollywood, saying they would merely serve as occasional "critics, or nudges," a Yiddish term for gentle naggers.
"I promise you this: We will never, never put the government in the position of telling you by law, through law, what to make," he said. "We will nudge you, but we will never become censors."
It was a far cry from the harshly anti-Hollywood rhetoric that Mr. Lieberman routinely employed before he became Mr. Gore's running mate last month.
"If they continue to market death and degradation to our children and pay no heed to the carnage, then one way or another, the government will act," he thundered last year.
In 1997, when the TV industry announced a new ratings agreement with children's programming advocates, Mr. Lieberman railed: "You can put a label on garbage, but it's still garbage. What these families really want is better television."
That same day, Mr. Gore praised the agreement, although he called gratuitous sex and violence on TV "a cheap industrial additive that glues eyeballs to the screen."
Such strong words were conspicuously absent from Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman at Monday's star-studded gala, which was catered by Wolfgang Puck. Mr. Lieberman enthused that he never could have imagined that one day his opening act would be people like musician Don Henley, comedian Garry Shandling and Larry David, executive producer of "Seinfeld."
Mr. David, who once devoted an entire "Seinfeld" episode to masturbation, preceded Mr. Lieberman by giving a speech that accused Mr. Bush of avoiding military service in Vietnam with the help of his father, who later became president. Mr. David added that his own father was no help in keeping him out of Vietnam.
"I declared myself a homosexual and let the chips fall where they may," Mr. David said.
He lambasted the Texas governor as a "smirking" lightweight who is "making it possible for a lot of idiots like myself to actually consider running for office."
Mr. David, who is Jewish, added: "Like Bush, I too found Christ in my 40s. He came into my room one night, and I said: 'What, no call? You just pop in?' "
Mr. Lieberman, who has made a major campaign issue out of being the first Orthodox Jew on a major national ticket, announced that a journalist confided that he had been moved to tears by Mr. Gore's selection of the Connecticut senator. Mr. Lieberman did not reveal the journalist's name.
Director Rob Reiner confessed that when Mr. Lieberman gave his speech at the Democratic National Convention last month, "I cried. I cried not just because I'm a Jewish person, but because I felt proud to be an American."
Jewish jokes were in abundance as, one by one, the rich and famous showered the Democratic ticket with accolades. After remarks by Mr. David and Mr. Reiner's father, Carl, Mr. Shandling took the stage and exclaimed: "Three Jews in a row. This has to be a Democratic fund-raiser."
Later in his monologue, Mr. Shandling glanced behind him and said: "I thought I saw the word 'rat,' I swear. Maybe it was the word 'brat' and they shortened it."
He was referring to last week's controversy over the word 'rats' appearing in an anti-Gore TV ad by the Republican National Committee. The GOP said it was part of the word "bureaucrats."
Mr. Gore thanked the glitterati for the $4.2 million the most ever raised at a private event hosted by the Democratic National Committee in Los Angeles.
"But I want to ask you in closing for something that is even harder for you to give than the contributions that you gave here this evening," said Mr. Gore, turning philosophical.
"We've been through a lot. For me, things changed after the assassination of President Kennedy… .
"Then Nixon was elected. Ugghhh. The Vietnam War unfolded. I went to the Vietnam War. I have felt more disillusioned than anybody here. I guarantee it.
"I thought that getting involved in public service would be the very last thing that I ever did. Some of the people with the highest ideals, the best hearts, the loftiest dreams, are the ones who are most reluctant to get involved in politics or the political process.
"Maybe they feel their good hearts are brittle. Maybe they feel they're going to be let down, disillusioned, heartbroken. For whatever reason, maybe, including some of the experiences that our country's been through, starting with those assassinations that I mentioned, people just kind of stay at arm's length."
He urged the stars to "open your hearts and allow yourselves to genuinely believe without reservation that we can do the right thing in America and be the better for it."
Mr. Gore made a relatively gentle reference to his threat last week to crack down on Hollywood if it doesn't "clean up its act" within six months.
"It's true that we feel strongly about the responsibility that the entertainment industries need to take when it comes to marketing inappropriate material to children," he said. "If I'm entrusted with the presidency, we're going to fight to change that."
Mr. Gore's courtship with Hollywood continued yesterday with an appearance on the "Tonight Show" with Jay Leno.

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