The inaugural Oblivion of the Year awards are upon us.
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And from Paris Hilton's (search) sexcapades to Ashlee Simpson's (search) lip-synching to Michael Moore's (search) political satire, the categories are not lacking for nominees. So without further ado, the five top Oblivions up for the award are listed below, and I've written in some runners-up as well.
To cast your vote, take the poll on the right-hand console on the page.
And the Nominees for Oblivion of the Year Are:
Michael Moore: Moore made a movie that went on to gross over $100 million at the box office, but his one-sided point of view alienated more than half of America, even some who agree with him politically. By accepting an invitation to be a guest of honor at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, he became the de facto face and mouthpiece of the liberal agenda. There are many Democrats who do not want Moore as the face or voice of their party, even if they do agree with him.
In addition, Moore's freelance production team in Iraq was less than truthful with soldiers who agreed to be interviewed on camera — soldiers who may have respectfully declined if they knew the crew was working on a Moore movie. This deception caused unwanted embarrassment for those soldiers, and put their lives in even more peril.
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Former Attorney General John Ashcroft: In his resignation letter, Ashcroft dubiously wrote: "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."
Now, this quote taken out of context here is worse than it actually was, so click here to read the full letter. However, the Grrr! Guy finds it a bit presumptuous — not to mention premature, since there's still a war going on — to include such a statement in an otherwise well-written letter.
Ashlee Simpson: Simpson learned a valuable lesson after she was caught lip-synching on "Saturday Night Live." The lesson isn't "don't ever lip-synch or use backup tracks." The lesson she learned is how not to react to a problem.
It is a lesson that will keep Ashlee in good stead for her future in the entertainment business. Perhaps instead of dancing a weird jig and then blaming her band in an ill-advised attempt to explain what happened, if she simply stated at the time of the miscue, "Hey, wrong backup track, let's try this again" and then continued with her song, it most likely would not have been so bad. But hey, it's easy for me to play Monday morning quarterback.
Teresa Heinz Kerry: Love her or hate her, Heinz Kerry was thrust into the harsh glare of the media spotlight when her husband, Sen. John Kerry, was nominated for president. But even her relative inexperience in the public eye should not excuse the statement she made that she didn't think first lady Laura Bush ever held a "real job."
Bush had been a teacher and a librarian, and has a master's degree. The statement offended many stay-at-home moms, teachers and librarians, and didn't help the senator's presidential campaign.
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake: Their stunt during the Super Bowl halftime show will go down in history as one of the dumbest TV moments ever: A "wardrobe malfunction" that amounted to an assault on the eyes of millions of unsuspecting viewers (to say nothing of the poor performance by Kid Rock that assaulted our ears as well).
Whether the stunt was deliberate can be debated for years to come, but the fallout could have easily been anticipated, and the stunt should have never been attempted by either party. Timberlake knew better. Unfortunately, the talented performer used poor judgment.
Cast your vote by taking the Grrr! Poll on the right of this Web page.
Jon Bon Jovi: This one I take personally, so take this nomination with a grain of salt. Last week I covered the opening night at Billy Crystal's one-man show on Broadway. I interviewed many A-list names on the red carpet, but when Bon Jovi made his way toward me, he took one look at my FOX News microphone and said "Forget FOX," and walked away (that is the G-rated version of what he actually said).
I don't think he knows that I heard him.
I was hurt. First of all, I've been a huge fan of Bon Jovi ever since high school. But more to the point, it wasn't "Forget FOX" when I did a feature on him singing at New York City firehouses after 9/11. It wasn't "Forget FOX" when I covered the release of his new album "Bounce" when he fumbled snaps at Giants Stadium. It wasn't "Forget FOX" when I covered his NFL kick-off concert in Times Square, and it wasn't "Forget FOX" when I followed Richie Sambora behind the scenes at Continental Airlines Arena for yet another feature story on the band. And it wasn't "Forget FOX" when FOXNews.com did a piece on Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres' baby clothes company.
But I'll tell you what, Jon. I will remember "Forget FOX" the next time your publicist calls to pitch me a story on your behalf. Grrr!
Dan Rather: Let's just say for argument's sake that Rather has no political bias whatsoever. The real Oblivion moment was in trying to justify the use of forged documents in a news report even after those documents seemed very likely to be false. How can someone so media savvy be such a knucklehead? All he had to say from day one was, "You know what, information regarding documents we used in our report is being called into question, and we're looking into it." It would have saved his legacy, if not his job.
Grrr! reader Rob in Vermont, who sent this e-mail regarding Left Lane Vigilantism: I gotta tell you, I take great pleasure in being a so-called "Left Lane Vigilante." All these idiots on the roads these days who feel like the speed limit doesn't apply to them? What a bunch of morons. When I am out for the weekly Sunday drive with my beloved, the last thing I need is a heart attack from the #$@^ who comes roaring up behind us at 90 miles an hour. Gimme a break. I understand that he is probably chief of thoracic medicine on his way to do a transplant for the president of the United States, but getting behind me when I am already going 10 miles over the limit and flashing your lights at me is not the way to get me to move over. It's the way to get me to match speeds with the guy I am passing and sit right next to him for the next 50 miles and watch you blow a gasket.
Grrr! Guy Mike Straka: Yes, I will nominate myself as a runner-up, because throughout the year I've written columns that were critical of this, that or the other thing. Perhaps I don't know what I'm talking about. I have certainly received my fair share of "you stink" e-mails, so maybe I'm the Oblivion. What do you think? E-mail me at the link below.
MTV and "The O.C.": MTV has its finger on the pulse of America's youth, however, the network pushes the envelope a little too far when it comes to the way young men and women are portrayed. I have no problem with encouraging young people to make up their own minds, however I do have a problem with the seemingly non-stop partying every time I tune in.
I also feel the network exploits young girls in the same way "Girls Gone Wild" does, albeit with clothes on. No matter how red-blooded American I am, I'm embarrassed to see young girls kissing one another in that casual "I'm just experimenting with same-sex relationships" irreverence. It's one thing to be open-minded and accepting of alternative lifestyles, but when the objective is TV ratings, it's simply shameful.
It has also been widely reported that popular FOX TV series "The O.C." is also going down this road, with the young actress Mischa Barton engaging in a lesbian relationship. Titillating? Yes. Educational? That remains to be seen. Gratuitous and exploitative? Absolutely.
We all make mistakes. The real value in making them, and sometimes reading about them, is to learn from them. Do you think Paris Hilton will ever make another sex tape? Well, you never know, but maybe — just maybe — the next time the Heir-Head makes a political statement like "Vote or Die," she'll actually vote.
The point is, nobody is perfect. For all of us regular folks who are doing the best we can to make a living and raise our families, the challenge is to behave with integrity and to set good examples for our children, so that they too can carry on in what it means to be American.
The Oblivions Are Ruining Christmas Gift Shopping
Come on people, this is supposed to be fun. But no, each year it's the same story. Stores are in shambles — with clothes strewn all over floors and never enough staff at the checkout counters.
I don't mean to Grrr! retail professionals. Theirs is a job I would not want. But I will remind them that no matter how tired you are, no matter how many Obliviots come into your stores, remember that we're not all that bad. And remember that the customer is always right.
That being said, customers should have courtesy for their fellow man. It's Christmas and Hanukah and Kwanza and whatever else, for goodness' sake! Let's remember to be nice. Let's remember to stand in line. Let's remember that when a retail representative is already helping another customer to wait until he's finished with said customer before blurting out a question.
And by the way, Christmas is Christmas. It's not Xmas and it's not Happy Holidays. If you don't like it, too bad. Don't be so sensitive. I don't wear my religion on my sleeve, so if someone thinks I'm Jewish and wishes me Happy Hanukah, I say thank you, right back at you. It's all good. It's all love.
Where was I? Oh yeah, shopping centers.
In the parking lot, try to return your cart to the cart corral. I know this is difficult, especially in the cold, and I know there are plenty of you out there who think you're contributing to somebody's employment by leaving your cart wherever you please, but you're still an Oblivion. This time of year, parking spots are scarce, so leaving your cart in the middle of an empty one is rude. Also, I like my car unscratched, and when the wind blows those abandoned carts into it, it will get scratched, or worse.
Do unto other's cars as you would want done unto yours.
Shopping is stressful. I hate it. Buying gifts is a special skill that — unfortunately for me and all of my recipients — is not on my resume. I never know what to buy for people, so I've resigned myself to books or gift certificates for Home Depot.
Who can't use something from Home Depot? You can't go wrong.
I'm lucky to have a great HD in my neighborhood. There are people who work there who are specialists in whatever it is they do, and my handyman skills have been greatly improved thanks to their advice.
Lou in the tool rental section is invaluable, as well as Mike B. in plumbing and Jeff, the kitchen designer — who put together a perfect design for us — and Carol in paint. These are real people who make a difference. Not reality stars, pop stars, athletic stars or the Hollywood elite.
It's nice to encounter everyday hard-working Americans, like the men and women of our armed services who are real people making a difference.
Look at what happened last week when a brave soldier challenged Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on equipment needs. The soldier — Spc. Thomas Wilson — asked Rumsfeld why he and others had to dig through landfills to find scrap metal and glass to protect their Humvees.
It was a courageous question to ask (even if he was "put up to it by a reporter"), and if you ask me, that's the guy I want defending my country. In fact, President Bush himself responded, saying the forces will receive the equipment they need. That would make for a very good Christmas gift.
Now for Your Grrrs
Chuck DeHart in Cyber-Space on the last column: Good article, however, you left out what is perhaps the most important aspect of why Sen. John McCain has threatened legislation mandating steroid testing for professional athletes: our kids. If this were a problem for adults only, I would say: "Let them ruin their bodies. I would rather watch a high school football game anyway!
D. Lee in Cyber-Space: How about a term for those people who are sooooo offended by virtually everything these days that they run to their lawyers to file lawsuits and restraining orders against their neighbors. I think these whiners ought to have to attend sensitivity training along with their attorneys. Or, perhaps we need a term to describe those 'fraidy cat mayors and school administrators that let one or two people ruin an event for hundreds or thousands of people? I personally am offended when I hear about an innocent child singing a song in a festive school program being labeled a born-again Christian conservative fanatic by someone who claims to be offended, but is really only intolerant themselves. Should I sue?
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Until next week ... Grrr!