If you can't beat 'em ...
Continuing saga of Bob Barr and the cruel shoes
Revenge is a dish best served up cold — and it tastes even sweeter if your enemies cook it for themselves.
No doubt U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, R-Smyrna, is enjoying watching his foes eat it these days, considering the irony of chewing up an anti-Barr ad campaign by using the very law the ad defends — a law Barr opposed in Congress.
When the National Republican Congressional Committee sent menacing letters to cable stations in Barr's district Oct. 11 telling them to drop the ad, they cited Public Law 106-152. Congress overwhelmingly approved the law last fall over Barr's objections. It criminalizes the creation, sale or possession of a depiction of "animal cruelty with the intention of placing that depiction in interstate or foreign commerce for commercial gain." It was intended to target "crush" videos, pornographic works of women in high-heels stomping small animals.
Barr is locked in a tough race against businessman Roger Kahn, who is spending hundreds of thousands of his own dollars on TV ads. On Oct. 10, Humane USA, a political action committee, held a press conference in Marietta to unveil its own anti-Barr ad, which shows a woman's shoe rubbing a hamster's head with her high-heeled shoe. A voice-over refers to Barr's opposition to the anti-crush video legislation.
Before the ad was aired, however, cable stations in the 7th District received the GOP letter warning that, "This footage is illegal as a matter of federal law. Public Law 106-152 states 'Whoever...shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years or both."
Not one station would run the ad.
"It's incredibly ironic," says Humane USA spokeswoman Andrea Lane, "that they would use this law to keep us from getting the truth out."
Reg Griffin, spokesman for AT&T Broadband, which has the majority of cable affiliates in Barr's district, says the GOP letter played no part in the decision not to run the ad. On Oct. 13, he says, AT&T Broadband's general manager, Jeff Ervin, deemed the ad too provocative for the company's customers.
"I don't know if the Humane PAC realizes that by getting the word out about this they're just drawing more attention to it," says Griffin.
Barr did not return calls.