Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ralph Nader, Movie Star

Ralph Nader, Movie Star

“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

The Polls

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?

To vote in this week's poll follow the link below. The poll is located on our home page on the left hand side.

Don McNay is Chairman of the Board for McNay Settlement Group in Richmond, Ky. You can write to him at or read other things he has written at His award-winning column is syndicated to over 200 publications.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

McNay on Money

McNay on Money

Save Us from Ben Bernanke

Even before he was appointed as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, I concluded that Ben Bernanke was out of touch with working Americans. Only Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky agreed with me; the United States Senate rubberstamped Ben’s confirmation.

As interest rates on 10-year Treasury Bonds zoomed up to 5.25%, I am wondering how many Senators would like to have that vote back. Bernanke is in over his head in a touchy and tough economic market.

High interest rates are wonderful for people (like me) who are in the structured settlement or annuity business. They are not good for the overall economy.

People in the real estate and construction businesses benefit from lower interest rates. Those people are hurting and they are going to hurt some more. Ben is not the only reason for their pain but he is doing little to ease it.

Here are a couple of columns I wrote about Bernanke last year:

The People Really Calling The Shots

Big Shot Bernanke

Speaking of Structured Settlements

Michael Stevens runs an excellent legal blog called Kentucky Injury Law Journal. Last week, he posted an interesting United States Court of Appeals ruling about companies (like the ones you see non-stop on television) who purchase structured settlements from injury victims. The ruling makes it difficult, if not impossible, for someone receiving money from a Federal Torts Claim Act settlement to sell their structured settlement to a settlement purchaser.

This is a wise and well reasoned decision.

Over the years, I’ve cranked out over 50 scholarly articles on arcane subjects like structured settlements, qualified settlement funds and other topics.

I am working on a few more of those “articles that need footnotes”. The case last week reminded me of one that I wrote a few years ago about Federal Torts Claim Act cases.

Thomas Lee Gentry, who is now the head of the civil division for the United States Attorneys in Lexington, Ky., co-authored an article with me about FTCA cases for the Trial Diplomacy Journal. The article seems more relevant now than when we wrote it in 1997.

Trial Diplomacy Journal: "Structured Settlements and the Federally Supported Health Centers Assistance Act of 1995

U.S. Sixth Cir. Ct. of Appeals denies state court jurisdiction over structured FTCA settlement per sovereign immunity