When Al Gore was selected as Bill Clinton's running mate in 1992, reporters used his wife Tipper's long-recanted crusade for parental labels for offensive rock lyrics as a political plus. NBC's Andrea Mitchell boasted for the Democrats: "They also believe that the Willie Horton of this campaign is family values, and you can't get much more squeaky clean than Al Gore, his four kids, and his wife Tipper."
But as Vice President, Gore has made sure he's no Dan Quayle in disparaging Hollywood attacks on traditional values. In 1997, he praised Ellen DeGeneres coming out as a lesbian on national TV: "So many television shows, songs and movies have dramatically changed the way we see vital issues. In this sense, the very term, 'entertainment industry,' is incomplete, for while you entertain, you also open minds and hearts. When the character, Ellen, came out, millions of Americans were forced to look at sexual orientation in a more open light."
Ever since Al and Tipper prepared for his first presidential run in 1988 by pleading to Hollywood that the rock-parental-guidance thing was all a bad dream, Gore has pandered to this major Democratic constituency. Look no further than the Democrats' massive soft-money fundraiser on May 24.
Comedian Robin Williams flooded his routine with profanity that would have had the old Tipper running for a parental-guidance label. Words that the major networks still won't allow on television were repeatedly used by Williams live on C-SPAN. In the midst of this torrent, Williams spotted a kid in the audience, prompting him to joke about his language: "Hello. There's a child in the front row. We've learned some new words haven't we?"
Reportedly, Clinton and Gore were doubled over laughing.
Then comedian Gore took the stage. Joking about Charlton Heston, and another National Rifle Association official who boasted of great access to a Bush White House, Gore quipped: "I would caution him, though, because the last time Moses took advice from a bush, his people wandered in the wilderness for 40 years." This giggling audience naturally didn't grasp what an observant Christian or Jew would infer, that listening to God would lead to exile in the wilderness. This is the same Al Gore who told religion writers a year ago that "the purpose of life is to glorify God." So much for that empty talk.
Three days before the soft-money sleazefest, Gore took his appreciation for family-unfriendly entertainment to a new level by making a guest voice-over appearance as himself on the prime-time Fox cartoon show "Futurama." This show's idea of glorifying God comes only when characters spout exclamations like "sweet zombie Jesus" and "holy zombie Jesus."
The Gore-cameo episode had more implied human deaths than a "Die Hard" movie. It revolved around the concept of a machine which would show you the future if you got a wish. The foul-mouthed robot character named Bender imagines if he were 500 feet tall. In this vision, Bender falls on top of an entire concert pavilion, crushing all the spectators to goo. Hello, Tipper?
As Bender continues to crush buildings and everything else in his path, the others use the wish machine to send in another character, a lobster named Dr. Zoidberg, in giant form. Zoidberg picks up a train full of people and starts swinging it around like a weapon. Bender grabs a tunnel like a straw and starts sucking pedestrians up, then spitting the people out at Zoidberg as if they were peas in a pea shooter. Once Zoidberg actually foils Bender, the robot's "dying" words are: "I came here with a simple dream. A dream of killing all humans. And this is how it must end? Who's the real seven-billion-ton robot monster? Not I." This is the kind of "entertainment" that would have pleased Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris.
We're still waiting to see cartoon Gore, but we just get more cartoon gore. In the next segment, the female cyclops Leela imagines if she were more impulsive. In this vision, she casually kills almost every other major character on the show. One is overheard saying "What are you hacking off? Is it my torso? It is! My precious torso!" She then goes to bed with the only remaining major character, Fry.
When Gore's moment finally arrives, the violence and sex levels decline, but one of his "Vice Presidential Action Rangers" complains that they're unable to kill Fry. "Something's wrong. Murder isn't working and that's all we're good at."
Gore has embraced this seamy side of Hollywood in a major way - so much so that one of his daughters, Kristin, is a new writer for "Futurama." What a politician will do for cold, hard cash when China's no longer an option.