“They’re gonna put me in the movies.
They’re gonna make a big star out of me.
The biggest fool that ever hit the big time.
And all I have to do is act naturally.”
- Johnny Russell (Buck Owens and Ringo Starr)
Ralph Nader was my childhood hero. Before he became a perennial office seeker, Nader had a reputation for protecting consumers.
The OxyContin scandal was tailor-made for the Ralph Nader of the past.
It was a situation where a big drug company was caught peddling a drug that they knew was addictive. The prosecutor rolled over when Rudolph Giuliani agreed to represent the drug company. In the end, the company executives got a sweetheart deal with no jail time.
The old Ralph Nader would have come out swinging. He would have had protests going around the clock. When I searched Google News for the words “Nader” and “OxyContin,” there was not a single match.
Instead, I found out that Nader is starring in a movie.
First, Ralph tried to be president; now, he is trying to be Brad Pitt.
Ralph suffers from Al Gore-itis. He wanted to be as important as Al Gore, so he helped torpedo Gore’s chance to be president.
Gore won an Oscar; Ralph wants his Oscar, too.
Gore’s movie is about a subject he is passionate about: global warming. Nader’s movie is about a subject that he is passionate about: himself.
Nader used to do things that helped people. His crusade for product safety was important in its day.
Now he is consumed by ego. Going Hollywood is Ralph’s latest scheme to downplay his role in putting George Bush in the White House.
O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson have a better chance of redeeming their public images than Nader does. Ralph let his ego do his thinking, and as a result, George Bush became president.
It is a little hard to whitewash that with a movie.
I haven’t seen the Nader movie, and I never will. I know it will flop. No one wants to hear about Nader. He has become irrelevant.
When it comes to public redemption, Al Gore stole a page from the old Nader playbook.
Gore was on the outs for several years. He is more popular now than ever because he has become focused on a cause, not on himself. You can sense Gore’s passion about global warming. It is an issue that everyone, including George Bush, now recognizes as a crisis.
Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, was a wake-up call. Just like Nader’s book, Unsafe at Any Speed, was for an earlier generation.
It is sad to watch Nader disintegrate. He is the political version of David Hasselhoff, a star from another era who is publicly melting down.
At least the Hoff is big in Germany. Ralph doesn’t even have that.
If Nader could focus on helping others, he could regain a speck of relevance.
Instead of heading to Hollywood, he should be speaking out about drugs like OxyContin.
Corporate executives pushed OxyContin to millions of people. People died. People’s lives are ruined.
People would have taken heed if Nader had called out Rudolph Giuliani for his despicable deal-making. Ralph was too wrapped up in his movie to notice.
We need someone like the Ralph Nader of 40 years ago to speak out. The Ralph Nader of today is not going to do it.
Pike County, in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, recently hired trial attorney Gary C. Johnson to look at taking legal action against the OxyContin makers. The county will try to recoup the millions of dollars its taxpayers have spent treating addicts.
The leaders of Pike County are taking an innovative approach. If they are successful and others follow, it will punish the OxyContin makers.
It will make other drug companies think twice before they push addictive drugs.
The people in Pike County are showing imagination and leadership.
It’s the type of thing the old Ralph Nader would have done.
I’m glad Pike County didn’t wait for Ralph. Nader is busy preening for the cameras. He is starring as the biggest fool to ever hit the big time.
And all he has to do is act naturally.
Story Behind the Song"Act Naturally"
I've used another Johnny Russell classic, "Rednecks, White Soxs and Blue Ribbon Beer" as the title of another column.
The enclosed story of how the song became a monster hit for Buck Owens and later for the Beatles is fascinating.
Previous Columns on Ralph Nader
Whatever Happened to the Consumer Movement?
Oops, Ralph Nader Did it Again
Macho Man Ralph Nader
This week there are two poll questions:
1. Should Pike County, Kentucky sue the makers of OxyContin?
2. Was Ralph Nader's Candidacy in 2000 a factor in George Bush becoming President?
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Don McNay is Chairman of the Board for McNay Settlement Group in Richmond, Ky. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or read other things he has written at www.donmcnay.com. His award-winning column is syndicated to over 200 publications.