The Blame Game

Photo by Mike McGillIf your son whacks his sisterupside the head, you blame TV. If your nieceis shot in a drive-by, you blame the gun maker. If you crash into a tree while driving home drunk, you blame the bar. If you choke because you've shoved too much ham sandwichinto your pie hole, you blame the restaurant. If you smoke three packs per day for 40 years and contract inoperable lung cancer, you blame the tobacco companies. And if you're Ann Coulter, you blame Rush Limbaugh's drug addiction on Bill Clinton. Yes, when it comes to tragedy, we Americans just love to avoid the obvious and point our fingers elsewhere. And there was a whole mess of that going on last week amid the devastating fires that ravaged just about every Southern California county but the Orange one. Instead of chastising those who actually started the fires, Republican congressmenin San Diego blamed Gray Davisfor not asking for federal help soon enough. Davis blamed the federal governmentfor rejecting his request for aid to clear dead trees—a rejection that, ironically, reached his office mere hours before the wildfires raged out of control. The San Diego County Sheriff's Departmentblamed state fire officials, who rejected an early bid to drop water from helicopters on the deadly Cedar Fire. Anyone with a long history of being pro-environmental destruction blamed the Sierra Club. And everybody blames the Jews.

Meanwhile, the Bush administrationblamed Congress for not passing Dubya's "Healthy Forests" initiative, which would expand logging—even though loggers don't operate in the areas hit by the SoCal wildfires. No matter: the "Healthy Forests" initiative sailed through the Senate on Oct. 30.

THE LOVE CANAL BOAT Just when it seemed as if all the T's had been dotted and I's had been crossed, the U.S. Department of Transportationon Oct. 24 questioned the safety of a plan to ship a 770-ton, out-of-commish nuclear reactorfrom San Onofre to South Carolina. All other state and federal agencies had green lighted Southern California Edison's attempt to mount the third-heaviest radioactive shipment in U.S. history. The move would involve putting the reactor in a protective casing and carrying it by tractor trailer across San Onofre State Beachto the 5 freeway for a quarter mile before taking a dirt road to Camp Pendleton's Red Beach. The shipment would then travel across eight miles of sand to a special boat basin just north of Oceanside Harbor. It would then be loaded onto a barge for a trip around the tip of South America and up to the East Coast. It's that ocean voyage that concerns federal transportation officials, who fear it could sink in the open ocean and corrode or break apart while resting in Davy's Lockerand possibly make Tierra del Fuegoreally, really, really fuego. The feds are also worried about the safety of the workers who will be accompanying the nuclear payload. Transportation and all the other agencies approved a previous plan to take the reactor to South Carolina by rail, but Edison abandoned that idea when it couldn't reach an agreement with the railroad over costs and liability. MOUSY MEDIA The Associated Press reports on Oct. 27 that the Walt Disney lavishing TV, radio, newspaper and magazine reporterswith a three-day, all-expenses paid trip to Orlando's Walt Disney Worldto cover the openings of a new fireworks show, the Mission: Space ride and the Pop Century hotel. An Advertising Ageeditor expects the junket to generate millions of dollars worth of free promotion for otherwise-publicity-starved Disney. That concerns journalism watchdogs, who consider it unethical to suck at Mickey's teat and then churn out bland, non-controversial coverage. This also troubles Clockwork deeply. Having covered the glitzy openings of the Anaheim resort's Fantasmic, California Adventureand even the resurrection of the Electrical Parade, we've gotta ask: Where the hell was our invite to a free three-day trip to Orlando? We can slurp up free food, cut to the front of long lines and sell free Disney swag on eBay when we get back with the best of 'em. At least we can take solace in having been spared a very special concert for the press by the Jim Belushi Band. DRIED UP Someone called Laguna Beach Policeto report that as limousines drove away from the Montage Resorton South Coast Highway around 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 27, trees lining the route suddenly dried up. The caller told the coppers he believed the incident was tied to a top-secret government science experiment. And the X-Filesmight fly out of our butts. Obviously, those limos were filled with Cher, Goldie Hawnand George Hamilton, whose dried-out pores suck the moisture out of all living organisms they pass. CRAP BACK AT YA The O.C. creator Josh Schwartzgot even with Washington PostTV critic Tom Shalesfor a negative review of the Fox teen soaper. When the show premiered in August, Shales called it "breathtaking in its imbecilic banality" and "formulaic and pandering in laughably obvious and palpably desperate ways." And those were the compliments! During the Oct. 29 The O.C., Summer, cute as a bug in her candy-striper uniform, sneaks Sethand Ryan into a Newport Beach hospital room to rescue Marissa from her evil mom. As Ryan gives a candy-striper uniform to Marissa so she can slip out undetected, Seth accompanies Summer as she makes the rounds with her book cart. Seth: [picking up a copy of Madame Bovary] That Flaubert can really turn a phrase. Summer: I guess. It was kind of a bummer. I mean, I know Emma got her heart, like, totally broken, but why did she have to go and eat arsenic? Seth: You've read Madame Bovary? Summer:Five times. It's Tom Shales' favorite book. Oh, I should go check on him. He's two floors down. He's, like, incontinent.

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A programming note: the new Wednesday time slot means we can't get The O.C.Watch into the print edition in a timely manner, but you can still find it every week at

WRITING HER WRONGS We mentioned in the Oct. 17 Clockwork how a judge held up the dismissal of domestic-abuse charges against Newport Beach actress Tawny Kitaenuntil she wrote a letter of apology for blabbing on The Howard Stern Radio Showhow she did not abuse prescription drugs and that it was her ex-husband, former Anaheim Angels ace pitcher Chuck Finley, who beat her up—not vice versa. Well, Kitaen wrote her apology, which Orange County Judge Pamela Ilespromptly sealed before dismissing the charges. A nation of tall, lanky starting pitchers is safe at last.


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