Beauty Shop Talk: Gramm Stretches His Acting Abilities

Was I hallucinating or did I see Oliver North on "Jeopardy" last week? I guess Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy, and Pat Robertson bombed out during pre-show contestant screening. Rumor has it Alex Trebek really wanted Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, but I guess he was too busy making videos about how to thwart President Clinton's judicial appointments. Gramm-watchers will recall the senator's involvement with the movie industry, dating back to his 1974 investment of $7,500 in a porn film. According to his former brother-in-law, Gramm's interest in celluloid smut was aroused by a flick called "Truck Stop Women." How exciting it must be for Sen. Gramm to be appearing in a low-budget film himself. On a tape produced by the conservative Judicial Selection Monitoring Project, he rails against "activist judges," including former state judge Michael Schattman, Clinton's nominee to a judicial post in the Northern District of Texas.As if to prove he's more than just a bag of hot air, Gramm blocked Schattman's appointment. A front page article in the Sunday "New York Times" (Nov. 16) described the predicament of Schattman, a widely respected jurist considered a brilliant legal scholar by many. Gramm's spokesman, Larry Neal, accuses Schattman of being a "careless and incompetent lawyer." In addition Neal claims that, because Schattman was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war, he is incapable of making unbiased decisions regarding the defense industry. Schattman served four years in the ROTC at Georgetown University and was honorably discharged from the Army in 1972, close to the time of Gramm's porno film investment.It's too bad the senator isn't up for a judgeship himself. Despite the fact he avoided serving in Vietnam by claiming student and teaching deferments, Gramm would probably have little trouble giving big guns a fair shake. And even if Gramm was a lilly-livered chicken when it came to defending American interests on foreign soil, the senator has stood behind the NRA's crusade to keep guns on the streets of this nation where they belong.Gramm -- known to many constituents as Mickey Mud Turtle -- resembles the goobery puppet on Mickey and Amanda, a local children's television show in the '50s. I don't know much about show business, despite the fact my sister-in-law used to be married to one of the gorillas on "Slam Bang Theater." But if somebody offered me the chance to be in a low-budget film -- possibly even one filmed in a motel room -- I'd have a hard time passing it up. So I know how Sen. Gramm feels. Stars get in your eyes. You picture your modest turtle-head projected hundreds of times larger on a giant movie screen and imagine your flat, nasal voice amplified through the wonders of Digital Stereo Surround Sound. When you think of people panting from the spectacle -- the way you did when you watched "Truck Stop Women" -- well, it's easy to get the big head.It's too bad Gramm missed the "Jeopardy" gig. Oliver Stone won his round, besting Arianna Huffington and Wolf Blitzer. Oliver North lost his (to Andrea Mitchell). I would have given anything to see ol' Turtle Head against funnyman Al Franken -- who got beat by Pat Schroeder. I guess I'll have to settle for laughing at Phil on video.

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