Disney Rescues Our Children

Plus: A Bookstore Bigger Than Norway; A Dole/Newt Bailout Update; and Rehnquist's Fringe Activity

| Tue Jan. 12, 1999 3:00 AM EST

So Disney pulled 3,400,000 copies of The Rescuers off the shelves because of some mystery smut they wouldn't identify.

Fear not, friends, your intrepid reporter is on the case.

Geez, will anybody ever learn that censoring something is the fastest way to get people to want to see it? Apparently not. Like last year, the Insane Clown Posse put out a lousy album no one paid any attention to—until it got censored by the label, then all of a sudden a mediocre rap group has this cachet of the forbidden like they're Alexander Solzhenitzyn's writing from a Soviet gulag.

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Well, here we go again. Disney says there's something dirty in the The Rescuers, but they won't say what. And now all anybody wants to know is, OK, what's so awful that they're willing to spend millions of dollars to cover it up?

Well, people, I'm not gonna let you down.

Here you go: 38 minutes into the film, while Bernard and Bianca are flying around town, there are windows in city buildings going by in the background. If you advance frame by frame, you'll see two frames where one of the windows contains a tiny, distant picture of a nude woman who is visible from the waist up.

Apparently somebody in post-production thought it was funny, although opinions differ as to exactly when the images were inserted.

You can see the frames for yourself at the Urban Legends Reference Pages at http://snopes.simplenet.com/disney/films/rescuers.htm.

Anyhow, it's completely invisible at full speed, you can't tell who the woman is, she's not doing anything remotely obscene or gratuitous, and absolutely none of you would have any idea it's there if Disney hadn't called such attention to it.

So two points:

  1. Censorship doesn't usually work too well, and more importantly
  2. What's so obscene about a nude female body? Since when do children of breast-feeding age have to be protected from the image of...breasts?

Excuse me, but the Disney corporation's attitude seems like what our kids really ought to be protected from.


Priced any Internet stocks lately? This isn't just a speculative bubble. If Richard Branson's balloon was this large, he'd be all the way to Morocco by now.

What's more valuable? The bookseller Amazon.com—which has yet to show a dollar in profit and is dwarfed in several respects by several of its competitors—or the country of Norway?

You guessed it.

Do the math, folks, and according to the speculators now ruling the casino on Wall Street, the market capitalization of Amazon.com now exceeds that of the entire stock market of Norway.

Does that sound reasonable to you? It gets better.

Suppose for a second that Amazon.com had a complete monopoly on every book sold in the United States. According to Barron's, the stock is still priced at fifty times the hypothetical earnings. Which means Amazon.com is now worth five to ten times what it would be worth if it sold every single book in America.

Are we getting close to a crash? Oh, possibly. That hissing sound you hear might just be the airbag getting ready to inflate.

Calling the exact timing of market movements is considered almost impossible, but two of the most powerful indicators of an impending downturn are

a) the opinions of investment newsletters, and
b) the ratio of people buying call options, (a high-risk, high-reward way of betting the market's about to go up quickly) to those buying puts (a similar bet on an impending drop).

Both of these groups are notoriously wrong, so when you see all the newsletters going positive, or you see twice as many calls being bought than puts, that's usually a good time to start looking for the exits.

Last week, Barron's reported what they termed a "buying panic" in call options, and the investment newsletters were more bullish than they've been in seven years.

Uh-oh.

This is just one guy's opinion here, so take my advice at your own risk—it could be weeks before a downturn, or even months—but remember the last time I was this amused by stock overvaluations was literally days before last summer's big pullback (radio edition of The Scoop, broadcast on KNX 1070 AM in Los Angeles 7/11/98).

So do your own thinking. Norway, Amazon. Amazon, Norway. Hmm...

I don't want to alarm anyone out there, but... RUN!!!!!!!


Updating earlier stories:

In May 1997, this space pointed out the odd coincidence between the $300,000 that Bob Dole fronted to bail Newt Gingrich's more photogenic end out of his Ethics Committee penalty for lying, and the $300,000 Dole received a few days earlier as a signing bonus to begin working for the tobacco lobby.

In December 1997, this space predicted that Liddy Dole would definitely seek the presidency in 2000, and that Newt Gingrich would not. Instead, Newt would defer and support Liddy as a quid pro quo.

So. Am I nuts, or was the tobacco money loan from Dole part of a deal to buy Gingrich's patronage? And did Dole, by fronting for them, buy Gingrich's support for Liddy?

Time cut to the present.

Liddy's running.

Newt's not.

(Two predictions down, two to go.)

Instead, Newt's setting up Gingrich Enterprises, a consulting firm to lobby on (get this) health issues. Newt's also about to start a speaking tour at $50,000 a pop.

Newt's also setting up a new PAC, the Friends of Newt Gingrich Political Action Committee. So obviously he'll be raising money for somebody in 2000.

Maybe Newt won't support Liddy. Maybe he will. Let's watch. I give it six months.

Let's also watch and see if Newt starts doing a bunch of speeches for tobacco growers and the like. Let's see how much FNGPAC (which I suggest we begin pronouncing as "Fringe-Pac") money winds up in Liddy's coffers.

Just as a coincidence, of course.


Finally, what's with those little shiny gold thingies on William Rehnquist's sleeves? Who does he think he is? A Lieutenant Commander on Star Trek?

By now, you have all seen TV coverage of the impeachment in Washington, and we've all heard a gazillion opinions about whether pursuing a trial without the slightest chance of conviction is or is not a waste of the public's money.

From the way I phrased that, you already know my opinion.

Polls say most of you agree. But a lot of people still want to return America to the 1950s—a time when if you wanted to have sex with an assistant, you had to be director of the FBI.

Anyhow, everybody on both sides of the aisle is saying all this stuff about the richness of the pomp and the majesty of the shindig, and that's all fine. But there's one thing that just makes it impossible for me to take any of this seriously: the little shiny thingies on William Rehnquist's sleeves.

Never mind Rehnquist's career as a partisan Republican. None of that really matters here, since his role is mostly ceremonial. What bugs me is the sheer weirdness of what the garb he's wearing to the show.

Most people assume that Rehnquist gets shiny thingies because he's Chief Justice. But the Supreme Court isn't Star Trek. They don't do that. You can look at all the pictures of Supreme Court justices you want. You won't find anybody else with shiny thingies.

So what's the deal?

Truth be told, William Rehnquist is really into Gilbert & Sullivan, and in Rehnquist's favorite production of one of their operettas, there was a British Lord Chancellor character who has gold thingies on his sleeves. And so William Rehnquist decided he wanted to wear them, too.

That is so…dingy.

(Incidentally, the character Rehnquist is emulating lusts after his teenage ward and father a child out of wedlock. Damn, ain't life great?)

I just can't take impeachment seriously when the presiding judge is halfway dressed for an audition of "Pirates of Penzance."

Dude, you're the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. You're not Rex Smith. Get a grip.

I mean there's a principle here. If Rehnquist gets to wear his little shiny thingies, where do we draw the line?

Suppose David Souter really likes the little logo thingie on the chest that makes you a crew member of the Enterprise. Would he get to wear it on his robe?

Or how about if Clarence Thomas wanted to dress like a Klingon, or Sandra Day O'Connor wanted to wear Ferengi ears? How is that so different?

Hell, we could give up the title Supreme Court altogether, and just call them the Deep Space Nine.

After some of their recent rulings—remember, they voted 9 to 0 that allowing the Paula Jones case to go forward would not disrupt the nation's business—it's a name they might just deserve.


Bob Harris is a radio commentator, political writer, and humorist who has spoken at almost 300 colleges nationwide.

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