Skip to main content /TRANSCRIPTS



A Look at Star Power's Role in Politics

Aired June 13, 2002 - 16:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Candy Crowley in Washington, where star power may be playing a bigger role than ever in politics. We'll spend much of the next hour reviewing the showbiz connection.

KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Kate Snow on Capitol Hill. When the stars come out here, does it really help the cause that they're fighting for? We'll take a look at when pretty woman came calling.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: I'm Jeff Greenfield in New York. The attraction between politicians and celebrities is a marriage made in heaven. And I'll will be looking at some of the more memorable weddings.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Washington. I'll be your host as we play the game, "match the celebrity to the cause."

CROWLEY: Thanks for joining us. Judy is off today. We shine the spotlight on political star power in just a few moments.

But first a look at some of the day's headlines. Firefighters in Colorado are struggling to contain nine separate wildfires, including just one south of Denver, which has scorched nearly 100,000 acres. CNN's Charles Molineaux has just returned from a trip behind the lines. He joins us now with a closeup look at the fight behind the flames.

Charles, it must have been quite a sight.

CHARLES MOLINEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really is, Candy. And of course, the distances involved are extraordinary. You could end up going many, many dozens of miles on the highway to get to a fire that is actually only a couple of miles, as the crow flies, away from people's houses, as firefighters are trying to deal with it.

Now, the situation for metro Denver, the outer suburbs are continuing their reprieve as the winds continue to blow more from the north and blow the Hayman fire more in on itself, at least at the northern end.

But at the southern end of this fire, they're seeing more threats in the area of Lake George, Colorado where, for a while last night, forestry officials thought that maybe 30 homes had been destroyed. They said that that is not the case. But the fact is, the situation is so unstable that they're not exactly sure what the situation is there. It is very difficult to get in and take a look.

But if you look around the state of Colorado, we have a continued very dangerous fire situation. Half the state is under extreme fire threat and nine fires are burning. The Hayman fire is, of course, at 90,000 acres, the biggest one, and the biggest one Colorado has ever seen.

There are now about a thousand firefighters on the job right now. The forestry service hopes to have some 2,000 on the job by the end of the day. Earlier today we were out by Deckers, Colorado. This is an area that was considered very much in danger and very much under threat, as the Hayman fire made its northward progress. Firefighters were lighting back fires to try and protect houses an other buildings around the area of Deckers and Trumble, two very small towns, very much threatened by fire extremely close to them.

A lot of the firefighters we saw on the line today had actually only just got into the area. They're coming in from all over the country. And they were ready to hit the ground running.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I kind of got gut sick. I was really nervous about being here. It's nothing. It's not bad.

MOLINEAUX: You can you handle it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can handle it. We got a good crew.


MOLINEAUX: And the situation with the winds remains the very problematic one. It is the winds blowing from the north that are giving this reprieve to the outer suburbs of Denver, and that which is causing the biggest threat on the southern end of the fire, west of Colorado Springs in Lake George.

Actually right now it's a little bit after 2:00 Mountain Time. We are getting into what they call witching hour, Candy. This is a period between about 2:00 and 4:00 p.m., where the daily buildup of heat causes a real pickup in winds and real unpredictability in where this fire could go next.

CROWLEY: Charles Molineaux, thanks so much, out of Colorado, watching the fires there for us. Colorado Governor Bill Owens will be our guest tomorrow on INSIDE POLITICS to talk about the fire situation.

Here in Washington, the Environmental Protection Agency today issued a proposal to relax certain air pollution rules to make it easier for companies to upgrade their coal burning power plants. Environmental groups immediately cried foul, accusing the administration of bowing to the wishes of the energy industry.

The top Democrat in the Senate echoed their criticism.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: This administration is fast becoming the most environmentally unfriendly administration in 20 years. And I'm very, very saddened by the news again today that once again, clean air takes a back seat to the polluters and special interests that seem to have such power in this administration.


CROWLEY: Now to CNN's John King at the White House. John, I know the Democrats think that this is really a good issue for them. I'm wondering what the White House is saying about this.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House says this is an old argument that will now be debated yet again. The White House making the case that what it is doing here is simply going back to what the rule was in the earliest days of the Clinton administration.

It's a very technical issue, Candy. It's called new source review -- one of those labels only Washington could put on something. But the White House is saying is the Clinton administration went too far and over-interpreted the rules, so that if a coal producing plant already in place wanted to make technological improvements, it would then automatically have to put in as well very expensive anti- pollution control.

The White House says that ends up being counterproductive. That most plants won't do even the most basic repairs because they would turn out to be so costly. And the administration says because of that, some coal plants are putting out more pollution, more emissions, than they would if they could make these simple repairs.

The president today was asked about this. He says his critics are just simply wrong.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... absolutely wrong. The new source review reforms, coupled with the clear skies legislation, will reduce pollution by approximately 70 percent. This administration is committed to clean air and we're going to work vigorously to achieve clean air.


KING: This decision reopens the whole debate, of course, about the Cheney energy task force. It was in that task force report that the vice president and his group recommended that the EPA consider this, consider making it easier on coal-burning electricity plants to increase production.

Democrats promise to make this an election issue. It is also, Candy, a reminder. As Democrats say, Mr. Bush is doing this because of states like West Virginia and states like Pennsylvania. Had tiny West Virginia gone Democratic last time, as it had for so many years, Al Gore would be president, not George W. Bush.

CROWLEY: CNN's senior White House correspondent, John King. Thanks, John.

Closed-door meetings continue this afternoon at the conference of Catholic bishops in Dallas. Earlier the bishops heard emotional public testimony from victims of clergy sexual abuse. The conference president, Bishop Wilton Gregory, issued an apology in his opening remarks. He said the crisis has created what he called a profound loss of confidence by the faithful in our leadership.

With me now to talk more about the bishop's conference and the proposals for dealing with sexually abusive priests, Father Donald Cozzens of John Carroll University in Cleveland. And in Dallas, R. Scott Appleby of the University of Notre Dame.

Gentlemen, one of the questions I have here is, if the bishops do not deal in their proposals that they vote on tomorrow, with their own actions, can this conference be a success?

Let me go to Professor Appleby first. What do you think?

SCOTT APPLEBY, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME: Yes. No, I think they have to deal very effectively with the policy recommendations that had been formulated by the ad hoc committee on sexual abuse. There are a number of very specific recommendations that the bishops have to take up, including the so-called one strike and you're out policy and the zero tolerance policy.

CROWLEY: Father Cozzens, let me ask you, can the Catholic Church continue on as it has, that is, being run solely by the bishops and by the priests? Doesn't some laity have to come in now?

REV. DONALD COZZENS, JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY: Candy, I believe we're witnessing the end of an era. Things will never quite be the same. And I think Dallas will be the marker for this end of an era and the beginning of a new era.

We're going to see the decline of what I called clericalism -- a rather secretive, let the clergy run the church, let the laity be passive. We're witnessing now the hour of the laity. And we'll find laity assuming leadership roles that we haven't -- the likes of which we haven't seen.

The laity will begin demanding fuller financial accountability. And they'll be looking for meaningful roles of leadership in the church today and in the church of tomorrow. The Catholic laity are saying: enough. It's time now to really put into practice what the second Vatican council said, about the church being the people of god.

They're going to demand fuller financial accountability. I think they're going to be asking for full disclosure of the number of credible allegations brought against clergy. And in the end, they're going to be the key to a stronger church, in the years and decades ahead.

CROWLEY: Scott, you're a historian, a professor. Do you think that this marks the beginning of a new Catholic Church in America?

APPLEBY: I certainly hope so. It is a church that needs to be renewed in the spirit of the second Vatican council. The promise of the laity's participation and active decision-making in the church has really not been fulfilled over the past 40 years.

And if the church is going to move forward and be renewed, the bishops alone, cardinals alone, priests alone, can't address not only this crisis, but a kind of general gap in credibility that the church now faces. So, I hope it is a time for renewal. And that will only be the case if the bishops and the cardinals welcome the laity more fully into the governance of the church.

CROWLEY: Father Cozzens, let me ask you, do you think that the Catholic Church can go on without some of these bishops who allowed some of these priests to move from parish to parish, knowing full well what they had done, as far as abuse of young children -- do you think that the Catholic Church can continue without getting rid of some of those bishops?

COZZENS: I'm not sure we'll ever get rid of some bishops. I think that the bishops need to say, we've made serious mistakes. If the extent of their malpractice suggests that they should resign, I think they should resign. I don't think anybody will be trying to fire them. That's not quite how the church is structured.

But I think it would be a beautiful witness for some bishops to say, the judgments that I made are really not defensible. Young people have been hurt again and again. Our denial was a misplaced loyalty to the institutional church. And that's not what I'm about as a bishop. My loyalty has to be to the gospel and to the people of god.

I think it would be a beautiful witness for some of the bishops to say, I'm going to step down because I've made such serious mistakes that I don't feel I should continue in office. If a high school principal or a superintendent of school made some of the mistakes that our bishops had made, I think they would be asked to resign.

CROWLEY: Father Donald Cozzens of John Carroll University in Cleveland, thank you so much. And in Dallas, Scott Appleby. Scott, thank you so much for braving the weather out there. It looks pretty bad. Get in out of the wind. Thanks.

A quick programming note, the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, will be a guest tomorrow on INSIDE POLITICS.

Our special reports on political star power begins next on INSIDE POLITICS. Is one of the Backstreet Boys a poster boy for what's wrong with the embrace of celebrities on Capitol Hill? I'll talk to a senator who seems to think the answer is yes.

And actor Lou Diamond Phillips tells us why he is qualified to testify on the Hill today, and whether he thinks the use of political star power is at all troublesome.

And if you have ever played the game, "Six degrees of Kevin Bacon," you'll want to stay tuned for our variation on the theme, featuring Senator Fred Thompson.


CROWLEY: Politics is often serious business, as Americans were reminded on September 11. But sometimes it also has an element of show business. And lately Washington seems particularly star-struck.


(voice-over): Now playing on Capitol Hill, actor Lou Diamond Phillips, calling for reinstatement of veterans' health benefits for Filipinos who fought in World War II. Is that something to get all shook up about?

Stars seem to be showing up everywhere these days to promote political candidates, causes, and perhaps themselves.

MARTIN SHEEN, ACTOR: I want to talk to the press.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't talk to the press.

CROWLEY: This week, Martin Sheen, better known to TV viewers as President Bartlett, has been almost as busy making political appearances as his real-life counterpart.

JULIA ROBERTS, ACTOR: Look, I would love to be your beck and call girl, but...

CROWLEY: Even America's silver screen sweetheart, Julia Roberts, recently got into the act, charming and lobbying lawmakers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Only to be with you...

CROWLEY: The line between politics and entertainment got even blurrier when U2 lead singer Bono went on tour in Africa with Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. Enough already, says at least one lawmaker.

Senator George Voinovich boycotted a hearing last week on mountaintop mining because the star witness was Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys.

Senator Voinovich, I want to get right to it. What do you have against the Backstreet Boys?

SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R), OHIO: I don't have a thing against the Backstreet Boys. And had they been scheduled as one of the witnesses that we had agreed to, they would have had their opportunity to testify.

WALLACE: So, was this a process problem, or do you ave a larger problem with the use of celebrities on Capitol Hill? VOINOVICH: Well, I think in this particular case, specifically, it was a process problem. We had agreed to the witnesses, and at the last minute some staffer for Senator Lieberman found that they had another witness. It happened to be one that's in showbiz. And told us that they were going to add a witness and gave two days to respond.

And we basically said, or my staff did, we couldn't come back that quickly with a witness. And we asked that the hearing be delayed or that this individual not be allowed to testify. And they decided to go forward with it. So it's a process.

But I think beyond that, I think we need to look at when we bring in witnesses, we've got to make sure that we're dealing with substance and not showbiz. And there are some high-profile individuals that are wonderful witnesses. When I was governor and chairman of the governor's association, I had Rob Reiner in to talk about (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Christopher Reeves certainly can come in and talk about spinal injuries...

CROWLEY: Well, what do you object -- I mean, what sorts of things do you object to?

VOINOVICH: Well, what I object to is where somebody is brought in to bring the showbiz atmosphere to a hearing where they're relatively not the kind of substantive witness that we ought to be having at our Senate hearings.

CROWLEY: So, I mean, one of the quotes that I saw from you, said, look, it's basically a joke to think that this witness can talk to us about water quality and a number of issues that you were talking about. So, how do you determine, you know, which celebrity has gravitas -- if we can use that overused word -- and which doesn't?

VOINOVICH: I think that that's, in the Senate, the majority has the upper hand in terms of the witnesses. And I think it's incumbent on us to be responsible and to respect our colleagues. If we bring in witnesses that are not substantive and are more show business than substantive, then what happens is we demean the committee process. And, in the long run, what it means is that many times some of our colleagues won't show up.

CROWLEY: How surprised are you that -- of the years that you spent in the Senate or as governor in Ohio, that this has gotten this much attention?

VOINOVICH: I was very surprised. In the beginning, I had something against rock 'n' roll. And I don't know whether you know this or not, but I was mayor of Cleveland and governor, and I'm the father of the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. I did most of the induction ceremonies.

I've got nothing -- I'm not opposed to rock 'n' rollers.

CROWLEY: Well, that's good to know. And we will add that to your title, Senator George Voinovich, as well as the father of the Rock 'N' Roll Museum. Thanks very much for your time.

VOINOVICH: You're more than welcome.

CROWLEY: Came up to Capitol Hill to meet Lou Diamond Phillips, who is up here on a cause near and dear to him. I think my first question is, we talked to Senator Voinovich, who was very upset the other day because one of the Backstreet Boys came to testify about something.

And he said, you know, this is stupid. Here are all these Hollywood stars coming up here. We ought to be listening to experts. Give me your take on that.

LOU DIAMOND PHILLIPS, ACTOR: I definitely think he should be listening to experts. I would be surprised at any actor or musician who claimed to be an expert on a lot of the issues being voted on. What I think celebrities do do is to help draw a spotlight to certain issues.

It's sad, but the plight of the Filipino war veterans of World War II may not be news unless someone like me got involved. And I think that is the purpose of being here and that's the function that I serve, as someone who can perhaps illuminate a bit more, be articulate about it, and put, hopefully, a familiar and friendly face to an issue that may slip through the cracks or be obscured to the public.

And even, certainly, to certain members of the Congress. They may not give it as much attention if the media weren't looking at it as well.

CROWLEY: Right. So the spotlight brings attention and brings something that pushes the cause forward. How did you get involved in this cause? Did they call you or did you call them?

PHILLIPS: Actually, I was conscripted, basically, to use the term, by Fritz Friedman, who is the senior vice president of Worldwide Publicity at Sony Pictures. He's part Filipino.

There are a few of us in Hollywood with Filipino heritage -- myself, Rob Schneider, the producer Dean Dublin, who did "The Patriot," and Tia Carrere. And he brought us all together basically piggy-back on one another, and host certain events to bring attention to this cause. And that's been about four years now.

And we're now at the place where a bill is being voted on and these men can get some recognition for the first time in virtually what is 60 years after the fact. I mean, they fought during World War II. Their rights were taken away in '46. And here we are in 2002, just now giving them their benefits back.

CROWLEY: And do you see any similarities here? I mean, obviously here we're less interested in the senators walking the hall than in you. Are there similarities between what you're doing in Hollywood and what you're doing here?

PHILLIPS: I think a bit. The one thing is, we can't hide behind a facade here. I can't hide behind a character. This is Lou Diamond Phillips talking about something that is near and dear to him. This cause and what I have to say about it affects my mother, affects my grandmother, affects my grandmother's brother, who is a World War II veteran.

It certainly, I hope, will bring some pride to my father's side of the family. I was a military kid. So these issues are something that even though I'm not an expert, I certainly feel justified and validated speaking on today, because they do affect me personally and I do have a personal stake in them.

CROWLEY: Last question, did you feel as though you were taken seriously?

PHILLIPS: That's yet to be seen. It's nice to see the response that I've seen here on the Hill. It's a bit disconcerting. It's amazing, the relationship between government and Hollywood. I think that it has evolved over the past couple of decades.

But it is about making an image. It's about getting a message out. And I think that certain people in government realize the power of that. They realize the power of the media and the people who can, not necessarily control, but manage the movie media to their own ends.

CROWLEY: Lou Diamond Phillips. Good luck on both your cause and your career.

PHILLIPS: Thank you so much.


CROWLEY: Despite the controversy over whether celebrities belong in politics, the Hill and Hollywood are closer than you think. How close? About six degrees. You know that showbiz game trying to link actor Kevin Bacon to any other actor in six steps or less?

Our Robert Yoon, who clearly needs more to do, has an updated Washington version of the game. In Capitol speak, the object is to connect the dots between political celebrities and the senior senator from Tennessee. Let's call it six degrees from Fred Thompson.

Robert, you're on.

ROBERT YOON, SR. POLITICAL RESEARCHER: That's right, Candy. Every politically-active celebrity can be traced back to Fred Thompson, the former movie and television actor turned United States senator.

Let's take Lou Diamond Phillips, who was just on. We all know him from "La Bamba," but he was also in a movie called "Courage Under Fire" with Denzel Washington. Denzel Washington was in a movie called "Crimson Tide" with Gene Hackman. And Gene Hackman was in a movie called "No Way Out," with Senator Fred Thompson -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Now the INSIDE POLITICS six degrees challenge. Connect the dots between Fred Thompson and Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson. Rob, who is a know-it-all, already has it figured out. He'll be back later with the answer.

Up next, Julia Roberts lights up the room. But can she fill the coffers? We'll look at the "Erin Brockovich" star's real-life cause.

And, look who's popping up in the movies. We'll have the inside story of what happens when lawmakers go Hollywood.


CROWLEY: Among the stories in our "Newscycle," Interim leader Hamid Karzai has been elected to a two-year term as head of state in Afghanistan. Karzai won almost 1,300 of the 1,600 ballots cast in the loya jirga, or grand council, gathered in Kabul.

Police in Salt Lake City say family and friends of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart are among those under scrutiny in the search for the missing girl. A police spokesman says today the focus on those who know Smart is typical police procedure.

House leaders say they have reached a deal to quickly pass legislation for the proposed department of homeland defense. Ten House committees will craft proposals then turn their work over to a special committee controlled by Republicans, which will write the actual bill. The goal for enacting the bill into law is September 11.

Now back to our focus on star power: If any celebrity has the fame and following to make a difference politically, it would be box office big shot Julia Roberts.

Our congressional correspondent Kate Snow tells us if Roberts' recent appearance on the Hill lived up to its advance billing.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I've had the worst day until now.



KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On the big screen in movies like "Stepmom," it is just an act. But actress Julia Roberts made a real connection with a girl named Abigail.


ROBERTS: And following the discovery of the gene, it is our hope that treatment and a cure are finally within reach.


SNOW: Abigail died from a rare neurological disorder called Rett syndrome. It typically strikes young girls, making it difficult for them to talk or use their hands. You have probably never heard of it. Most people on Capitol Hill hadn't either until this.

ROBERTS: This silent disorder suddenly and unexpectedly took Abigail from us.

SNOW: Roberts spoke to a House subcommittee that addressed several other subjects that day, but Rett syndrome got the most time and a lot more cameras.

(on camera): And that's the point. On a busy day, there might be 20 hearings and a dozen press conferences going on up here. Bring in a celebrity and suddenly every network shows up with a camera.

(voice-over): Congressman Steny Hoyer invited Roberts. He's says she's making good use of her fame.

REP. STENY HOYER (D), MARYLAND: She got all of you in this room to talk about Rett syndrome. I couldn't do that. Kathy Hunter, as extraordinary as she is, couldn't do that.

SNOW: Hunter is president of the International Rett Syndrome Association, the mother of a girl with the disease. She's testified 12 times before Congress. But it was Roberts' appearance that brought thousands more in donations and, even more important, worldwide attention.

KATHY HUNTER, PRESIDENT, INTL. RETT SYNDROME FOUNDATION: The phone was indeed ringing off the hook, ringing off the hook, right from the moment of the testimony, from families who didn't know that their daughter had Rett syndrome, or hearing of it for the first time.

SNOW: And what does a celebrity get out of coming to the Hill? Roberts say it is the flip side of losing your an anonymity.

ROBERTS: This more than serves as balance to make sense as to what attention can really be about. And, if I can get up early and come to Washington and hang out with my friends here and do some good, then what better way to spend a day?


SNOW: Now, those involved with Rett syndrome say Julia Roberts is not some fly-by-night spokesperson for them. They point out that, unlike some stars who might study up for a few days before coming to Capitol Hill, she has actually been involved in this cause for several years now.

And Kathy Hunter told me, Candy, that, if you saw the looks on the faces in that room, if you saw her interacting with those kids, you would know, in Kathy Hunter's words, that she's the real deal -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Kate Snow on Capitol Hill with the politicians and the stars -- thanks, Kate.

Turnabout is fair play. And while many stars are showing up in Washington, some politicians have popped up in major motion pictures. Several lawmakers shared with us the inside story of their cameos in the film "Traffic."



SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Stand up and be independent, because I don't care who is president. I don't care who the members of Congress are. I don't care who you have to deal with. If you're independent, and you use that bully pulpit right, that is where the power is.


HATCH: They were raving about that I said everything that needed to be said, that they couldn't have written the script better. I thought: "My gosh. I'm going to be in a mainline movie for three-to- five minutes." And when the movie came up, I missed the point. When I saw it the first time, I missed myself, because it was only about 11 seconds.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: It was a very enjoyable experience, but I am not going to give up my day job. I'm surprised that I could have said so much as I did during that setting and then it all ended up on the cutting-room floor. We were listening to a monologue by Senator Hatch in the final analysis after everything was cut up. Of course, we're used to that anyway.



MICHAEL DOUGLAS, ACTOR: Thank you so much for sharing your point of view. And I look forward to this opportunity or working with you.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, call me, because I have a good bill (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I just need your help.


BOXER: I am very strong for a treatment on demand. I think what is important is that, when people need treatment, they should get it. So, I said, "Can I say whatever I want?" And they said, "Absolutely."

Now, I knew there was a chance I'd wind up on the cutting-room floor. So, I had to really work out it in my mind that I could say my lines really quickly. And the lines stayed in. So, to me, the important thing was getting that message across.


SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: You know, if you have 25 percent of high school seniors are using drugs, if you reduce that to 10, that is a great improvement. And I will congratulate you. That would be a phenomenal achievement, but you would still have 10 percent habitually using drugs.


REID: But I enjoyed it. And Michael Douglas is a great guy. I was a little disappointed, though, that my little episode was with him. I was hoping I would have about 30 minutes with Catherine Zeta- Jones. But she is a doll. And he's great, too. It was a lot of fun.


CROWLEY: Politicians are still fans.

The Washington-Hollywood connection isn't what it used to be. Up next: How did the early movie stars make their marks on politics? And when did the script begin to change?


CROWLEY: Entertainers have dabbled in politics for decades, but in a different way than they do now.

Here is political analyst Ron Brownstein of "The L.A. Times."


RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): When the first generation of Hollywood stars became involved in politics during the Depression and World War II, most still saw themselves as entertainers, not experts.

Icons like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra, didn't want to make speeches at political rallies. They viewed their role as adding glamour and excitement and fun and deferring to the politicians on substantive issues. It wasn't until the 1960s that Hollywood stars like Paul Newman and Marlon Brando began to systematically offer themselves as spokesmen for causes, such as the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements.

The change partly reflected a belief that, as television became more important in campaigns, the walls between show business and politics were collapsing. A conviction hardened in Hollywood when Ronald Reagan won the California governorship in 1966. Even more important: As the credibility gap opened in Vietnam and social unrest tore through America at home, the stars, like millions of ordinary Americans, lost faith in government and became more willing to publicly challenge its decisions.

Paul Newman crystallized the new Hollywood attitude in 1968 when he defiantly insisted, "Who's to say who's an expert?" Since then, the star with a microphone and an opinion has become a routine part of political life, though not without controversy. Long before Senator George Voinovich complained, the Republican opposing Tom Daschle in his first Senate race ran ads attacking him for inviting Jane Fonda to testify at a congressional hearing.


ANNOUNCER: Instead of inviting someone from South Dakota, Daschle invited the same Jane Fonda who writes against eating beef and pork, our state's biggest farm products.


BROWNSTEIN: But celebrities have proven such a magnet for the media that candidates and causes can't resist enlisting them. And it is unlikely the stars themselves will ever willingly surrender the starring role.

This is Ron Brownstein, INSIDE POLITICS.


CROWLEY: Stars might love the political spotlight, but politicians love Hollywood's deep pockets. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, members of the TV, movie and music industries have given almost $10 million so far this cycle, much of it to Democrats. But since 1990, donations to Republican candidates have increased from 27 percent to 39.

Among the celebrity donors, Barbra Streisand tops the list, handing out more than $56,000, all to Democrats. Director Rob Reiner has given $46,000. Michael Douglas has pitched in just over $30,000, including a $1,000 nod to the Republicans. Jane Fonda has kicked in $21,000; director Steven Spielberg $15,000, director Ron Howard $6,000, and singer Jimmy Buffett $5,000. Hollywood types contributed almost $38 million during the 2000 presidential cycle.

A reunion this weekend for deep-pocketed Democrats and the man they gave it up for: More than 60 donors to the Gore-for-president campaign in 2000 have accepted the former vice president's invitation to join him at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Gore associates insist he will talk about 2002, but they do not deny the loud 2004 overtones to the get-together. Also expected at the three-day gathering: a handful of former Gore 2000 staffers.

Checking the headlines in "Campaign News Daily": Georgia Democrat Senator Zell Miller is backing the primary challenger to a fellow Georgian and Democrat, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Miller recently gave $1,000 to former state Judge Denise Majette, a woman he appointed to a judgeship while he served as governor. Miller and McKinney clashed recently after the congresswoman suggested the White House had advanced notice of the September 11 attacks, but chose not to act.

A new poll finds Vermont Governor Howard Dean may have some work to do at home in his potential run for the White House. In a head-to- head matchup with President Bush, Dean trails the president by five points among his own Vermont voters.

Another poll finds Florida Attorney Bill McBride still trails Janet Reno, but he is gaining ground in the Democratic primary race for governor. Reno leads McBride 53 percent to 25 percent. That's almost double the 13 percent who supported McBride in January. The poll also shows that both Democratic candidates trail Governor Jeb Bush by more than 20 points in one-on-one match-ups. More six degrees of Senator Thompson ahead: Have you been able to link him to a Backstreet Boy yet? Also, Jeff Greenfield names his tops moments when politicians paired up with the world of entertainment.


CROWLEY: Our focus on Washington star power includes some memorable and unlikely combinations between entertainers and politicians.

Senior analyst Jeff Greenfield explains.


JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: It's a marriage made in P.R. heaven. Politicians love to bathe in the adulation, the mass love that fans shower on celebrities. For their part, celebrities hunger to be taken seriously, to be seen as something more than showbiz pizzazz. That mutual attraction has produced some memorable pairings.


JACK PAAR, HOST: A tough question right off the bat?

JOHN F. KENNEDY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whether I am a Democrat or Republican?


GREENFIELD: A major-party presidential nominee going on a late- night TV show? It was unprecedented when John F. Kennedy bantered with "The Tonight Show"'s Jack Paar in 1960, but it also set a precedent. Richard Nixon followed suit that year.


RICHARD NIXON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Republicans don't want another piano player in the White House.


GREENFIELD: And returned three years later to show off his new, less-uptight image by playing piano on "The Tonight Show."

By 1992, it wasn't all that surprising to see Bill Clinton, Democratic presidential nominee, on "Arsenio Hall," playing the saxophone and talking about youth violence.

In 2000, both Al Gore and George W. Bush went on Oprah's TV show.



(END VIDEO CLIP) GREENFIELD: She teased Gore about his passionate kiss with Tipper at the Democratic Convention, while Bush obliged with a kiss of his own.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In our opinion, unpresidential.


GREENFIELD: And both candidates went on "Saturday Night Live" to show they were good sports about the ribbing the show had given both of them.

Now, here's my nominee for oddest joint appearance: Sammy Davis Jr. embracing President Nixon at the 1972 Republican Convention. The surprised Nixon acted as if he were being assaulted, not embraced.

But this has to be the single most memorable coupling of all: May 1962, Marilyn Monroe, poured into a skin-tight dress, singing a highly erotic happy birthday to the president of the United States, the ultimate blend of power and glamour, fame and sex, as it turned out, with a real-life connection barely hinted at way back then.

(on camera): Now, it's easy to mock the politician's lust for affection or the celebrity's lust for respect, but there is another side to this. And the recent African tour of Treasury Secretary O'Neill and U2 singer Bono illustrates it. If a pop star can draw the world's attention to the plight of impoverished nations and if a Cabinet member can provide a sense that decision-makers are taking that seriously, this may be a case where everybody, including those most in need, wins.

Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.


CROWLEY: OK, time's up. Have you found the six degrees between Senator Fred Thompson and Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson? Robert has.

YOON: OK, Candy, here goes.

Kevin Richardson is a member of the band Backstreet Boys. Now, the Backstreet Boys performed at Super Bowl 35 XXXV last year with 'N Sync. Now 'N Sync member Justin Timberlake, as we all know, is dating Britney Spears. And Britney Spears did a Pepsi commercial with Bob Dole. And Bob Dole served in the Senate with Senator Fred Thompson -- Candy.

CROWLEY: OK, thanks, Robert, but I think that one was too easy.

Your next challenge: Can you connect the dots from Fred Thompson to Kermit the Frog? Our resident know-it-all will be back later with the answer. Up next: some offbeat moments when celebrities sing a political tune.


KEVIN RICHARDSON, BACKSTREET BOYS (singing): Oh, I hope and pray that I will, but today I am still just a bill.



CROWLEY: You could use a scorecard or a playbill to keep track of the many celebrities promoting political causes, or we could all turn to our master of ceremonies, Bill Schneider.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Celebrities, causes and Congress, the three C's: Let's see how it works.


(voice-over): Let's play, what's your cause? Match the celebrity to the cause. Today's celebrities are: Goldie Hawn, the sock-it-to-me girl, back to the future with Michael J. Fox, Jonathan Lipnicki, everybody's favorite little boy from "Jerry Maguire," Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys, and "Pretty Woman" Julia Roberts.

And today's causes: human Rights in China, juvenile diabetes, Rett syndrome, colorectal cancer, and privacy protection. What's your cause? The celebrity enters the hearing room. The cameras click. And it's Erin Brockovich. No, make that Julia Roberts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any doubt in anybody's mind that I was correct that Julia Roberts could bring a lot of attention to Rett syndrome and to the committee? These photographers, of course, are critically interested in Rett syndrome.

SCHNEIDER: Here is Michael J. Fox, exploiting his celebrity to attack the exploitation of celebrities.

MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR: For years, we have spotted photographers around the edges of our personal property and trailing us in the streets and parks with high-powered lenses.

SCHNEIDER: Kevin Richardson came to Congress to promote cancer research. Young Hill staffers came out of Congress to swoon over the Backstreet Boy. He's a singer, so...

RICHARDSON (singing): Oh, I hope and pray that I will, but today I am still just a bill.

That's from "Schoolhouse Rock." I grew up listening to that.

SCHNEIDER: China violates human rights? Here is Goldie Hawn, the mom, asking Congress to call a timeout. GOLDIE HAWN, ACTRESS: If my child does something wrong, then I take the right action. I'm not a pushover. I make sure that he understands that he wasn't allowed to do that. OK, that's my role as a mother. Our role as a government is to be able to do a similar thing in terms of different nations that act out in a way that is not -- what is it?


HAWN: Thank you.

SCHNEIDER: Who can resist an adorable kid? Not Congress.

JONATHAN LIPNICKI, ACTOR: Mr. Chairman -- is this on? Oh.

Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for letting me join my friend Tessa Wick and all 200 of the Children's Congress delegates today to talk about juvenile diabetes. We both have big dreams for our futures, but Tessa happens to be different from me in one important way.


SCHNEIDER: How does it work? Celebrities promote causes. Causes promote celebrities. And both promote members of Congress.

CROWLEY: Bill, thanks very much.


CROWLEY: Think you know which celebrities dabble in politics? Go to and play our celebrity activism match game. Link up the stars with their favorite issues. Your score will be based on speed and accuracy.

Our final link to Fred Thompson and possibly our best six-degrees link to Fred Thompson is next. Can you link the senator to Kermit the Frog?

But first, let's go to Wolf for a look at what's coming up on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

WOLF BLITZER, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Thank you very much, Candy.

The fireworks are exploding and it's not even the Fourth of July. Country superstar Toby Keith is upset with ABC's Peter Jennings, of all people. The singer is on our show to explain why. And you wouldn't believe who can pick up images from U.S. spy planes -- and the eye-opening breakthrough that makes the blind see.

I will see you right after INSIDE POLITICS.


CROWLEY: Our ace researcher Robert Yoon has done it again, finding six degrees between Kermit the Frog and Senator Fred Thompson -- Robert.

YOON: Thanks, Candy. Here goes.

Kermit the frog was on the Hill a couple years ago. He was also the star of "The Great Muppet Caper," which also started Charles Grodin. Now, Charles Grodin was in the movie "Midnight Run" with Robert De Niro. And Robert De Niro was is in the movie "Cape Fear" with Senator Fred Thompson -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Think that's it? No way. Check out for more of Robert's mind-bending Thompson teasers.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" is next. Judy is back tomorrow. I'm Candy Crowley.




Back to the top