The Truth About Michael J. Fox and Rush Limbaugh

What is being lost in the sensational battle of words between Mr. Fox and Mr. Limbaugh is a very complex issue of stem cell research.

On the Fox side, you have Americans who believe it is morally right to create and then destroy in research life in pursuit of curing terrible afflictions. The Limbaugh side says it is morally wrong to interfere with nature and terminate a potential human being, even in its initial stages.

Now it all comes down to what you believe. Nobody can win the debate. You either believe life begins at conception or you don't. And the polls say Americans are about equally divided on the issue.

But things get even more complicated when you see tragedies like Christopher Reeve and Michael J. Fox right before your eyes. I mean, who doesn't want these people cured? I'm sure Mr. Fox believes he is doing the absolute right thing in demanding that embryonic stem cell research go forward and I know Mr. Limbaugh believes he is doing the absolute right thing in objecting to the destruction of potential human beings.

What's really terrible about the situation is that there's no resolution. Nobody knows whether embryonic stem cell research will eventually cure anything and nobody knows whether adult stem cell lines will turn out to be effective or not.

Let me repeat that: nobody knows.

So when you hear people say embryonic stem cell research is a lock to cure paralysis and Parkinson's, that's simply not true. If it were a sure thing, I believe most Americans would immediately get behind it.

Which brings us back to the controversy. In Missouri Jim and Virginia Stowers, the owners of a medical research institute, have spent an astounding $28 million trying to get embryonic stem cell research passed in that state. Some say the couple will benefit financially if that happens. We're investigating and we'll have a story for you on Monday.

But there is no question the battle lines are drawn and now we want to show you two TV ads that are causing a major raucous. First the pro-life side:


JEFF SUPPAN, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS PITCHER: Amendment two claims it bans human cloning, but in the 2,000 words you won't read, it makes cloning a constitutional right. Don't be deceived.

KURT WARNER, FORMER ST. LOUIS RAMS QUARTERBACK: Californians agree to spend $6 billion on the exact same science. Now they admit there won't be any cures for at least 15 years. Same science, $6 billion, no cures. Beware of loopholes. Missourians will pay. Don't be tricked.

PATRICIA HEATON, ACTRESS: Amendment two actually makes it a constitutional right for fertility clinics to pay women for eggs. Low-income women will be seduced by big checks and extracting donor eggs is an extremely complicated, dangerous and painful procedure.

MIKE SWEENEY, KANSAS CITY ROYALS PLAYER: Twenty five women have died and 6,000 have complained of complications. Missouri, don't be fooled.

KURT WARNER: Why does it cost $28 million to convince Missourians that an amendment to the constitution is good for them? Maybe because it's not, don't be bought.

JAMES CAVIEZEL, ACTOR: You know now, don't do it. Vote no on two.


Now that ad was produced to counter Michael J. Fox, who is not only supporting politicians in Missouri, but also in Maryland.


MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR: Stem cell research offers hope to millions of Americans with diseases like Diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. But George Bush and Michael Steele would put limits on the most promising stem cell research.

Fortunately, Marylanders have a chance to vote for Ben Cardin. Cardin fully supports life-saving stem cell research. It's why I support Ben Cardin. And with so much at stake, I respectfully ask you to do the same.


Bottom line: This is a belief issue, which isn't going to be resolved come election today.

And that is The Memo.

Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

As mentioned, your humble correspondent, that's me, will be on "Oprah." Here's a clip:


OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": Why do we have to be put in categories, Bill?

O'REILLY: Because you have to make a decision. I think you have to fight for what kind of a country you want. And if you want to be in the middle, and you vacillate back and forth, I don't know what good that does.

Again, you don't have to toe the line. You have to make a decision on what kind of a country you want to live at.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't legislate what freedom of speech allows. Freedom means freedom. Say what you want to say and someone else can decide.

O'REILLY: This is important. That's bull. I'll tell you why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom is bull?

O'REILLY: No. It's not freedom. You can hide behind freedom all day long. Responsibility goes along with freedom, sir, with all due respect.


All right, again, that's "Oprah" on Friday in support of my book, "Culture Warrior." Also tomorrow night, I'll be on Letterman. That's just the usual stuff, so check it out. Which may be ridiculous, but you can make the call, and we'll do some stories on it on Monday.