Bush's 'American Idol' Summit
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
If you were wondering how pervasive the influence of pop culture is these days, check out President Bush's itinerary for the upcoming week. Some "American Idol" contestants are slated for a White House visit.
Yes, I know the nation is at war and Israel is battling Hezbollah in Lebanon, but we're talking the No. 1 reality show here. And that translates into some major cultural clout.
On July 25, following an appearance before the press with the prime minister of the United Kingdom, the president will pose for pics with last season's top 10 "American Idol" finalists. Then on July 28, after the "Idol" finalists have finished touring the White House, Bush has plans to have a rap session with them in the Oval Office. The event is timed to coincide with the "American Idols Live" show in Washington, D.C.
This will be the first time contestants from the hit television show will have been granted an audience with the commander in chief. Evidently, what was previously reserved for dignitaries, Nobel Prize winners, sports champs, and the like is now being extended to reality show winners.
Dubya will hang with Kellie Pickler, Chris Daughtry, and Taylor Hicks, among others.
"Idol" victor Hicks will also have a shot at a high school reunionwith his ninth grade English teacher. It turns out that Susan Whitson, who instructed Hicks at Hoover High School in Birmingham, Ala., is now employed as first lady Laura Bush's press secretary.
What are the chances? A former teacher of an "American Idol" winner becomes press secretary for a former librarian-turned-first lady of the United States; probably about as likely as a teacher, rock musician, and award-winning journalist getting a gig as a speechwriter for President George Herbert Walker Bush, going on to host big-time radio and cable TV shows, and then catapulting to the press secretary post for a former baseball team owner and son of G.H.W. Bush-turned-U.S. second-term president.
"Idol" runner-up Katharine McPhee may not make the White House trip because of a bad case of bronchitis and laryngitis. No word on whether Simon Cowell will join the festivities.
White House political advisors are reportedly interested in consulting with the "Idol" staff for their get-out-the-vote techniques.
After all, Hicks won last season's competition by getting 63 million votes in the season finale. That's several million more votes than the 59 million cast for President Bush the last time around; this despite Bush having received the highest vote total of any previous presidential election.
In fairness, though, voters are allowed to cast more than one ballot on "American Idol."
In the real world, the only voters who can do that are registered Democrats in swing states.
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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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