The Rant 

The writers' union strike is in its fourth month now, though there is talk of a settlement as I write this. Writers say that the money doesn't matter; it's the principle, but they are really pushing hard for more money. I think it is their principal and interest that they are concerned about.

A strong aversion to real labor is what has produced most of our politicians, preachers, and actors. And this strike is really starting to get to the actors, since with no writers they have nothing to say. I know this because I watch them interviewed on Entertainment Tonight. It reminds me of Kevin Costner's quote: "The great thing about being a celebrity is that when you bore people, they think it is their fault."

It's funny to watch Hollywood stars ask for exceptions to the writers' strike when it comes to the seemingly year-round awards shows that they put on for themselves. Writers can strike "the man" at the corporations, but when it comes to the perpetual self-congratulatory spectacles that are the Oscars, the SAG awards, the Golden Globe awards, and the like, stars want an exemption.

Stars always have held a double standard for themselves. And for skaters like O.J. Simpson, Phil Spector, Robert Blake, Wesley Snipes, and Michael Jackson, stardom has allowed them to do crime for free.

But there are other examples. Nicole Richie only spent 80 minutes in jail on her DUI conviction under California's tough "10-strikes-and-you're-out" rule. They only got her for the 80 minutes of jail time under their new "one-minute-per-pound" rule. Don't do the carbs unless you can do the time!

And Britney Spears has had a tough run. She got dropped by Dr. Phil, her manager, and her law firm. She was dropped more times in one day than her kids. My guess is that Britney will soon be in jail. She's apparently setting herself up to use the "Madonna defense" by developing a fake British accent.

Britney recently started dating a married guy who was one of the paparazzi she says that she hates. (Yet another in a series of great life choices by Britney.) This guy makes Kevin Federline seem like Peyton Manning. He looks like a barker for one of those perpetually "Going Out of Business" Oriental rug places — the type of guy you would go see to buy a roofie. And just to think, Britney went to L.A. to be a Mouseketeer.

Has anyone ever become a better person by living in L.A.?

The bad thing is that the writers' strike has not silenced Rosie O'Donnell (who I think was implicated in the Mitchell Commission steroid-use report). She agreed with Jesse Jackson when he said that Barack Obama was not black enough. Barack and his wife were very upset about these comments and said upon hearing them that it darn near ruined their night at the Neil Diamond concert.

Tom Cruise said in an interview that if you are in a car wreck, you should hope that a Scientologist drives by and helps because they "know what to do." I can see it now: There's a fiery crash, and the first thing victims yell is, "Is there a Scientologist around here? Please keep the paramedics away while we wait for a Scientologist!"

There is no better way to punish Hollywood celebrities than to keep them from being seen on television. While they have been off the air, I can only hope Americans began to rediscover the joy of reading a book or watching an old movie. Maybe young people even started reading a newspaper once in a while.

Ron Hart writes a weekly column about politics and life. He worked for Goldman Sachs and was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents by Lamar Alexander. His e-mail is RevRon10@aol.com.

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