- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Ozzy has left the building finally.
Washington is still dithering in the wake of Goth rocker Ozzy Osbourne, whose dark star rose above the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on Saturday night to fixate press and politicians alike.
He was rude. He was endearing. He swore, he mumbled, he stood on his chair. Mr. Osbourne inspired huge amounts of appreciative prose in the aftermath from journalists giddy over pomp, circumstance and studied misbehavior.
Not everyone was pleased, according to one report.
Lynne V. Cheney, wife of Vice President Richard B. Cheney, was said to be in a fit of pique over Mr. Osbourne's adulation, according to Matt Drudge, who ran the story as an "exclusive" yesterday on his Web site (www.drudgereport.com).
Mrs. Cheney was "embarrassed" over the fact that Washington's power elite rose on its hind legs to laud Mr. Osbourne, now the focal point of a bizarre but engaging cable TV show, and still a working musician.
"He's hardly someone to be applauding not a role model," Mrs. Cheney was heard saying, at least according to Mr. Drudge, who also attended the soiree.
Reports of Mrs. Cheney's offense are greatly exaggerated, however.
"This is all untrue," said a spokeswoman from Mrs. Cheney's office yesterday. "I don't know where this report came from. She never made any comments about Mr. Osbourne at all."
Mr. Drudge remains adamant.
"I stand tough behind the story," he said by telephone yesterday. "This may be a minor story, but it's a fun minor story."
"Oh, the Republicans need to lighten up and follow their leader and realize that entertainment is entertainment," said conservative activist David Horowitz, also by phone. "Any kid who has good core family values can listen to Ozzy Osbourne and just be amused."
Meanwhile, the rumors of Mrs. Cheney's comments juxtaposed on all things Ozzy proved too delicious to ignore in media circles.
"Why would Lynne Cheney back off from critical comments she was rumored to have made?" asked Matthew Felling of the Center for Media and Public Affairs yesterday.
"Maybe she sees a stammering, incoherent ex-druggie as a cautionary tale for Gen X-ers. Or maybe she changed her mind since he was invited by Fox News Channel celeb Greta Van Susteren. Regardless, any criticisms she may voice would only draw even more attention to Ozzy," he said.
Added one entertainment-industry writer: "Too many targets can weaken credibility. Mrs. Cheney may back off from a comment about Ozzy for that reason."
Mrs. Cheney represented the "fuddy duddy" contingent, according to liberal commentator Bill Press during a discussion yesterday on radio station WMAL. Mrs. Cheney should not make any fuss about White House appreciation of Mr. Osbourne, he said.
The White House is certainly not alone in its ardor. Mr. Osbourne's MTV show drew a record 8 million viewers last week, and he has just signed a $20 million renewal contract with the music network.
"The Osbournes" which features documentary-style video footage of Mr. Osbourne, his wife and two teens offers edgy cachet to those who take comfort in the fact that even a celebrity has problems with his dog or likes to sit around in his underwear.
It has become the music channel's most popular programming, inspiring high-profile singers P. Diddy and Gene Simmons to also offer their services. The show comes with its own peculiar tics. MTV announced yesterday that it now would offer on-screen captioning for the "non-hearing impaired" because Mr. Osbourne's speech simply can't be understood at times.
Reaction to Mr. Osbourne's Washington debut was darker on talk radio, with some listeners expressing their disappointment in President Bush's recognition of Mr. Osbourne from the podium.
"Clinton wasn't this bad. He only liked Fleetwood Mac," said one irate listener to Mr. Drudge's radio call-in show Sunday night, broadcast on the ABC network.
But some loyal Republicans understood its party's Ozzy adulation.
"This reminds me of the time that [wrestler] the Rock visited the Republican National Convention back in 2000," noted a Washington political observer. "The GOP was so grateful that somebody hip was associated with their cause that they went gaga. Ozzy's newfound acceptance is part of that mind-set."
Still, the reports of comments by Mrs. Cheney seem achingly plausible.
If anyone would have questioned the glorification of a rocker who once urinated upon the Alamo, sang of suicide and bit the heads off both a live bat and dove it would have been Mrs. Cheney. Or perhaps Tipper Gore but she was not in attendance Saturday night.
As cautionary culture maven, Mrs. Cheney has bluntly criticized suggestive, aberrant or violent music lyrics for years.
"Blood, guts, guns, knives, lives, wives, nuns, sluts. It is despicable. It is horrible," she said during a Senate appearance 18 months ago, quoting the lyrics of rap music bad boy Eminem.
However, controversies over the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner have had a short shelf life.
"It is a one-story event, from Don Imus 'finding' a lost Whitewater file to Clinton's comedy reel. Ozzy was this year's story," media analyst Mr. Felling said. "Why? Ozzy and his wife are the hot pop-culture icons presently, like 'Tickle Me Elmos' or the 'Macarena.' They're walking, talking buzz magnets at the height of their popularity."


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