- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2000

PITTSBURGH George W. Bush yesterday scorched Vice President Al Gore and Joseph I. Lieberman for taking millions this week from the Hollywood elite a group the Democratic team chastised just last week for marketing violent content to children.

"I notice my opponent went out to Hollywood yesterday it seems like he is auditioning for a Broadway play, he keeps changing his tune," Mr. Bush said at a town meeting in Perrysville, Pa.

"At the beginning of the week, he sounded awfully tough on Hollywood. He talked about six months, sanctions. He talked a tough line. After a couple of fund-raisers, he's changed his tune."

Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman collected $4.2 million on Monday from stars who mocked their opponent, Mr. Bush. In his comments at a posh Hollywood mansion, Mr. Lieberman said: "Al and I have tremendous regard for this industry. We're both fans of the products that come out of the entertainment industry.

"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."

Mr. Lieberman's remarks were a departure from what he said last year: "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."

Mr. Gore last week gave the entertainment industry six months to take action to make sure violent films are not marketed to children, suggesting sanctions if nothing is done.

"Go out there to Hollywood to collect some money, no longer is it six months and tough talk," Mr. Bush said.

Kym Spell, a Gore campaign spokeswoman, disputed suggestions that this was a flip-flop. "Al Gore, unlike George Bush, is not afraid to disagree with his friends," she said. "Al Gore has repeatedly said that we need to stop the marketing of violence to our children. George Bush has yet to say what his approach would be."

Mr. Bush said censorship is "not the American way," but Hollywood must be held responsible for its actions.

"We need to call in the captains of the entertainment industry and explain to them loud and clear that our country can do a better job of raising our children," Mr. Bush said, getting a big cheer from the crowd.

Violent content from the entertainment industry has become a prominent issue in the presidential campaign following the release of a Federal Trade Commission report last week that Hollywood was directly targeting children.

And yesterday, congressional Republicans got in on the act.

Rep. Jennifer Dunn, Washington Republican, displayed a compact disc by the group "Eels" containing violent, vulgar lyrics. The disc, produced by Dreamworks and bearing cartoon characters on its cover, was a party favor for guests at a luncheon honoring Rep. Nita M. Lowey, New York Democrat, at last month's Democratic National Convention.

"It concerns me that an industry would package their product in such a misleading and enticing manner to children," Mrs. Dunn said. "At first glance, a parent would assume this CD is oriented to children, but once you listen to the lyrics, nothing could be further from the truth.

"Vice President Gore is talking out of both sides of his mouth on this issue. On the one hand, he's chastising Hollywood for marketing adult products to children. Then, with a wink and a nod, he's accepting huge campaign checks at their high-profile fund-raisers. Where do America's children fall in this balancing act?"

Mrs. Dunn noted that Dreamworks founders Stephen Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen are prominent contributors to the Democratic presidential campaign in this election cycle alone, the trio has contributed a total of $525,000 to the Democratic National Committee. She called on Mr. Gore to repudiate their work and return their donations.

"As a single, working parent, I know how difficult it can be to keep your children on the right track," she said. "The material was obviously directly marketed to children."

Mr. Gore's embrace of the Hollywood elite may have played a minor role in the Fraternal Order of Police endorsement of Mr. Bush, done earlier this month and presented to Mr. Bush formally yesterday.

"Cop killers like Mumia Abu Jamal have all these Hollywood types to support them," FOP President Gil Gallegos said bitterly as he presented the endorsement yesterday.

Abu Jamal is on death row in Pennsylvania for killing a Philadelphia policeman. He says he was denied a fair trial and set up by a racist judge and prosecutor. He has broad support among celebrities, who have joined the demand for a new trial.

The Bush campaign has strongly attacked the Gore-Lieberman ticket this week but has been careful not to discuss the scandals of the Clinton administration too explicitly. However, Mr. Bush said earlier this week that he "will not let this man distance himself from the previous administration," and yesterday he appealed to Democrats and independents to vote for a change.

"You don't want four more years of the same stuff that has been going on in Washington, D.C.," he said at a rally outside Philadelphia. "You want a change, you want new leadership."

• Dave Boyer in Washington contributed to this report.

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