2007-02-14 / Opinion

NOT MY FAULT

by Alex McRae

Conner, who went the rehab

Lindsay Lohan blamed booze

What credibility gap? You've gotta hand it to Jimmy Swaggart. When the former super-preacher got caught committing adultery, he didn't blame his problems on something or somebody else. He confessed his sins on TV and let the chips fall where they may. In Swaggart's case, both he and the chips fell clean out of sight.

These days, personal responsibility is vanishing faster than the Arctic ice cap.

When high-profile people screw up, they don't admit wrongdoing. They hold a press conference, point to a problem allegedly beyond their control and announce they're headed to rehab. Here's the best part. Society usually buys it.

There's been no shortage of celebrities seeking rehab refuge recently. The latest is San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who confessed to an adulterous affair with a colleague's wife then announced he would seek counseling for an alcohol problem. Then he said he doesn't drink anymore, which left many wondering why he'd seek treatment for a problem with booze when the real problem is a serial zipper malfunction, as in, Newsom's zipper won't stay in the "closed" position.

Newsom would have sought rehab sooner, but for best public relations effect, he had to wait until every TV personality in the world had interviewed Miss USA, Tara route recently after admitting she had partied a little too hard with a few too many boys ... and girls.

Conner blamed her problem on booze and dope.

On the eve of the Golden Globe Awards, Isaiah Washington, a star on the hit TV show "Grey's Anatomy," was slammed for using a term offensive to gays to describe a fellow cast member.

Washington immediately announced he would go to rehab to learn how to quit insulting homosexuals.

Maybe Washington can share a room with Michael Richards, who made a name and a fortune playing Kramer on "Seinfeld." Richards got in hot water recently for losing his temper and his mind at a Los Angeles comedy club, where he repeatedly used the "n" word to describe an African American patron Richards didn't like.

After the incident, Richards said he needed "help" with anger management issues and would enter rehab. Right after he burned his diploma from the Adolph Hitler School of Bigotry.

The list goes on: Within the past 12 months, actor Mel Gibson entered rehab after going on an anti-Semitic rant following a DUI bust in Malibu. After showing her private parts in public places one too many times, starlet-turned-harlot and went the rehab route. Congressmen Mark Foley blamed alcohol after getting caught pestering congressional pages via text message, and U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy went to rehab after crashing his car through a Capitol Hill roadblock. (By the way, after rehab, Kennedy cosponsored a bill making it easier to get insurance payment for rehab.) These people had one thing in common. They all claimed to be the victims of substances over which they were powerless.

Addictions are no laughing matter, and people with substance abuse problems should certainly seek help. But experts say help doesn't happen until those seeking it admit the problem starts and ends with personal responsibility.

The good news is, the rehab excuse won't work much longer. Overexposure is quickly sapping its popular appeal. For folks in need of a new excuse, I have a suggestion.

Comedian Flip Wilson was one of the funniest guys ever. In one of his routines, he played a sassy woman named Geraldine, who had a knack for getting into trouble.

Whenever she was asked to explain her actions, Geraldine just shrugged and said, "The Devil made me do it."

Might be time to bring that one back.

(Send your e-mail comments to: alex@newnan.com)

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