The Sopranos...

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Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly, reporting tonight from Seattle, Washington. Thank you for watching us.

I'm here because I had to give the keynote address this morning for the National Association of Broadcasters, and the sun has been shining ever since in this beautiful city.

The Sopranos is the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo.

Millions of Americans will be watching on Sunday night as charismatic, immoral gangster Tony Soprano will hold court once again on HBO.

Now, I have mixed feelings about the program's impact on America. First off, like The Godfather movies, it takes vicious hoodlums and shows their human sides. The actors are so good, so convincing, that the audience sees real people on the screen.

The danger here is that they are not real people, they are flesh-and-blood cartoons involved in violent situations created for entertainment.

Yet the impression The Sopranos gives is powerfully real. I think it's accurate to say that most viewers do not despise Tony Soprano, a killer whose actions disgrace America. But because James Gandolfini is such an appealing actor, the evil he embraces on the program is rarely revealed.

Like Marlon Brando's Don Corleone, Tony comes across with some dignity.

That kind of entertainment creates confusion among those of us who become emotionally involved with the Soprano characters. Thus, we have millions of Soprano wannabes in America, people who are in real life imitating some of the mannerisms they see on the program, stuff like coarse language, violent conflict resolution, and disrespect for parents.

The question then becomes, is The Sopranos on the same level as subversive rappers, for example, like Eminem and Ludacris? Is the program a corrupting influence on America?

The answer is no, because the terrible acts that Tony and his thugs commit are not condoned or encouraged on the show, while the rappers make their degeneracy look like fun and games.

Talking Points admits this is a subtle difference. But there's another factor involved. HBO is a pay-TV service. Adults have to buy it. There is a choice involved with that channel. Any American family can deep-six HBO.

But thug rap is heard on the radio, on the Internet, sold in record stores to any kid with the bucks. Its corrupting influence is far more accessible.

No American kid under the age of 16 should be allowed by their parents to watch The Sopranos, in my opinion. The program's simply far too intense and destructive, and there's no balance on it. The show is all about gangsters and the people who live with them.

I will watch The Sopranos because it is so well done. But unlike many Americans, I'm rooting for the Feds to get Tony and his gang off the streets.

But there's no way I'd let any child watch a TV struggle where evil is in the starring role. And if you let your kids watch it, I think you're making a big mistake.

And that's The Memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day."

Congress is mulling over a resolution that would make it illegal for any congressperson to have sex with an intern in his or her office. If the intern works across the hall, no problem. But not in the office of the congressperson.

Ridiculous? Only to Gary Condit.

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