- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 2, 2003

Most Americans would prefer that celebrities stick with the artsy stuff and keep politics out of their repertoire.
A Fox News poll released Friday found that 24 percent of Americans are interested in hearing what actors and musicians have to say about national affairs.
Sixty-eight percent wished the celebrated "would keep their opinions to themselves." The poll asked 900 registered voters and was taken Feb. 25.
A new CNN/Gallup poll of 1,003 adults, meanwhile, found that 87 percent did not have their opinions swayed by outspoken celebrities.
Nevertheless, the uneasy mix of fame and politics is part of the public debate.
"Thank goodness we have a president with the courage to protect America," says actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican, in a TV spot that debuts in Washington and New York tomorrow.
Saddam Hussein is described as a "murderous and aggressive enemy" while Mr. Thompson vouches his support for White House policy in Iraq.
Mr. Thompson is an actor on NBC's "Law & Order" and taped the 30-second spot for Virginia-based Citizens United, an 11-year-old nonprofit research group that promotes public policy issues rooted in "traditional American values."
Mr. Thompson's announcement will share the airwaves with actor Martin Sheen's recent spot that advocates diplomatic rather than military measures in Iraq. Mr. Sheen plays the fictional President Bartlett on NBC's "West Wing."
But Mr. Thompson would not say his spot is a "direct rebuttal" to Mr. Sheen's, which has been airing since mid-February.
"I think the president is pursuing the right policy," Mr. Thompson told reporters Friday. "It's something I feel rather strongly about, and it seems like so much publicity, so many ads, are being taken out attacking the president, attacking the policy."
NBC is staying out of it all.
"Mr. Sheen and Mr. Thompson are both acting in their capacity as private citizens. We respect their opinions and their right to freedom of speech," the network said in a statement.
Meanwhile, musicians have joined the complex anti-war elite roster, which includes dozens of actors opposed to war in Iraq.
Dave Matthews and Lou Reed are among 60 musicians to join Musicians United to Win Without War, which began a petition drive Friday.
"In the rush to war by the Bush administration, the voice of reason and debate have been trampled and ignored," the musicians' statement reads. "We feel the war is not inevitable, though to be honest, the U.S. media and government have made us feel it had become a foregone conclusion."
The musicians' efforts are an offshoot of Move On, a California-based group founded in 1998 to help counter President Clinton's impeachment and to raise campaign funds for 30 Democratic congressional candidates.
Some celebrities, however, have joined Mr. Thompson in supporting the Bush administration.
Comedian Dennis Miller made his feelings known recently on NBC's "Tonight Show," suggesting that President Bush debate Saddam Hussein but bring along a gun.
"The Nazi signs have got to stop," Mr. Miller added. "If you're on a peace march and the guy next to you has a sign saying 'Bush is Hitler,' forget the peace thing for a second."
Mr. Miller then advocated some fisticuffs with the sign-bearer. Mr. Bush, he pointed out, "is not Hitler."

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