- The Washington Times - Monday, October 20, 2008


With just over two weeks to go before the election, Oliver Stone and distributor Lion’s Gate Films successfully detonated “W.” in more than 2,000 U.S. theaters with the intent to exact electoral damage on John McCain and the Republican Party.

Mr. Stone denies this motivation, yet an online advertisement for the film reveals the obvious truth: President Bush - played in the movie by Josh Brolin - sits on a toilet with his pants around his ankles, fist clenched against his chin (a la Rodin’s sculpture, “The Thinker”) and features the message, “Sitting President: W. In Theaters Oct. 17.”

That image of the president of the United States - and it is running across social-networking Web sites frequented by teenagers - should deeply offend fair-minded Americans that respect the office of the presidency, regardless of who inhabits the White House. Anyone with common sense should be outraged by its inherent indecency and the bad message it sends to young minds.

“W.” is a vicious 129-minute negative political ad whose promotional trailers and online banner ads are untethered to federal election law. Mr. Stone, out of character, restrains his excesses to deliver a PG-13 product in order to reach key youth demographics. And the hyperpartisan cast is given carte blanche to electioneer by way of an immense publicity campaign delivered by the mainstream media that holds the exact same partisan inclinations.

This happens every cycle.

If it’s not Oliver Stone, it’s Michael Moore. If it’s not “W” or “Fahrenheit 9/11,” it’s “The Contender.” If Republicans cannot figure out by now that the game is rigged against them - and if they cannot figure out a way to play the game or defend against it - then they deserve to lose.

While the ultimate answer is that conservatives and Republicans need to invest in pop culture so that they can make and distribute their own propaganda, an achievable goal in the short term is to begin using “truth squads” - just like the ones employed by Sen. Barack Obama to strike fear in the hearts of those who would dare dissent.

Think what just happened to Joe Wurzelbacher, the working-class Ohio plumber whose question prompted Mr. Obama to let slip that as president he’d “spread the wealth around.”

Through the magical work of Obama’s well-funded campaign, the world now knows that “Joe the Plumber” has a lien on his house and doesn’t have a license (though it is not required for the work he currently does). A false rumor also was widely reported that he was related to Charles Keating, a ghost of McCain scandal past.

It was all an effort to kill the messenger.

Instead of defending Mr. Obama’s answer or backtracking from it, his well-paid team and countless netroot surrogates sought to ensure that this working-class Joe is rendered ineffective as a proxy for the McCain campaign, even if it means destroying his reputation.

In the case of neutralizing “W.,” Republican operatives should go out and destroy the reputations of some of the film’s key participants.

Attacking Mr. Stone would be a mistake. That would be so 1996. The 62-year-old Mr. Stone is already known as a Castro-loving conspiracy theorist who cultivates a reputation as a renowned deviant, even by Hollywood standards. So nothing reported about him could sully his name or “W.” In fact, he wants to be attacked, the better to play the martyr.

Instead, Mr. Brolin, who defiles Mr. Bush every which way, should be the prime target for the Republican “truth squad.”

After all, if Joe the Plumber’s liens, licenses and (supposed) relatives make him such a despicable person that he poisons any questioning about Mr. Obama’s “spread-the-wealth” socialism, then any doubts people may have about the Iraq war, attorney firings, government eavesdropping or any other issue is similarly poisoned if the messenger is as awful a human being as Joe the Plumber.

At the time of casting “W.,” Mr. Stone readily admitted he did not want Barbra Streisand’s son-in-law to play the leading role. “I needed a star,” Mr. Stone said, “and Josh Brolin was not a star.”

What he got instead was something darker.

According to reports, Mr. Brolin was arrested in 2004 after his wife, actress Diane Lane, called Los Angeles police at 3 a.m. to report that her husband hit her. While Miss Lane never pressed charges - according to experts, such refusal is typical in domestic-violence cases - voters (and moviegoers) should be given the police report so that they can make up their minds on what kind of man Mr. Brolin is.

There’s more.

While filming “W.” in Shreveport, La., Mr. Brolin was also arrested for public intoxication after police were called at 2 a.m. to stop a bar brawl at the Stray Cat. The actor compounded matters by resisting arrest, prompting a charge for that, too.

This pattern of violence should cause pacifists and feminists alike to protest Mr. Brolin until he comes clean. All decent husbands and brothers should join their wives and sisters in boycotting all his movies. And Miss Streisand, a purported advocate of women’s rights, should be held accountable for not speaking out against her son-in-law.

Sauce … now you can meet the gander. And if all this strikes you as meaningless ad-hominem against Mr. Brolin that has nothing to do with either “W.” as a work of art or the issues it brings up … then, goose.

Hereafter, Mr. Brolin should be known as “Josh the Brawler,” yet another footnote in an Obama campaign that promised hope, but mostly delivered hate.

• Andrew Breitbart is the founder of the news Web site breitbart.com and is co-author of “Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon — the Case Against Celebrity.”

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