Friday, November 03, 2006

Michael J. Fox: A Heroic Advocate Of Stem Cell Research (Thursday's Show)

Hi everyone. Tonight's show was a nice change of pace. Though it was hard to see Michael J. Fox struggling, it wasn't nearly as stressful as all the nasty political stuff. Anderson is live in Washington tonight and we begin with a clip from his interview with Michael. This all came about of course because of Rush Limbaugh being, to quote Al Franken, "a big, fat, idiot." When asked about Limbaugh's comments, Michael admits that he found them insulting, but stresses that what he said has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Can I just say that Michael J. Fox is awesome? It would be so easy for him to just go quietly live his life without being subjected to all this scrutiny. Yet he tirelessly fights for a cure, which I'm sure he knows in all likelihood will come too late for him.

Moving on to an Anderson piece about Michael's life. We get the requisite clips of Back to the Future and Family Ties, but also learn that he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991, went public in 1998, and had to stop working in 2000. I remember back then hearing a rumor that he was secretly being treated for Lyme disease. If only that had been the case. Anyway, the Rush insults are recapped and Anderson pronounces Missouri right. Yay! We then get to see Anderson on the campaign trail with Michael in Virginia and Maryland. Campaigning like that can be exhausting for someone who doesn't have seriously progressed Parkinson's, I don't know how he does it.

After the piece Anderson mentions how Bush vetoed a bill on stem cell research. You all remember that, right? The only bill the man ever vetos and it's stem cell research. Unbelievable. Back in the interview Michael states that he's happy the whole Rush situation has gotten everyone talking about the issue. He was surprised by the personal level of the attack, but seems to be over it now. Although he does think Rush insulted everyone with the disease when he physically mocked the movements because there is a stigma that goes a long with that. Anderson discloses that they also invited Rush to be on the show, but he declined. Thank God Rush is a coward. I don't think I could have stomached that. Anderson also brings up the fact that critics say that campaigning for a single politician isn't helpful. Michael then blows this crap out of the water by stating the obvious: the more votes they have for stem cell research the closer they are to being able to override a veto.

Next we get a short clip of my hopefully soon to be former senator talking about the issue and cloning. Shut up Talent. I actually heard him say once that he didn't want to be walking down the street and see another Talent walking by. Although really I can't argue with that. I don't want to see two Talents either. Oh, and Anderson says Missouri right again. Yay! There's a little bit of cloning talk here and Michael assures that there are strict ethical guidelines in place. Anderson then brings up the critic's charge that he's giving people false hope and Michael replies that hope is what this country is based on. You tell them, Michael! I mean, what a stupid criticism. He should ask them if they think we should pull out of Iraq, because all we're doing is hoping things turn out better.

For some medical expertise we get Sanjay Gupta live. Sanjay where have you been? I don't think we've seen you since the great spinach scare. Or was it Africa? Anyway, don't go away like that again. Sanjay explains that the research involves therapeautic cloning, but that's not like what most people think of when they think of cloning. Parkinson's is a disease characterized by a lack of the nuerotransmitter Dopamine and researchers hope to one day be able to get embryonic stem cells to make Dopamine, so that they can then be injected into patients.

Back to the interview, Michael informs us that he thinks the advocacy work exacerbates his symptoms, but doesn't accelerate the disease. Anderson reads a question related to how some people think the research is killing innocent lives and Michael replies that these cells will be thrown away anyway. He has great respect for those who differ in opinion, but he believes it is a prolife position to use the cells to help save lives rather than just discard them. Anderson mentions that Bush is the first president to fund stem cell lines and Michael points out that he's the first president that had the opportunity to do that. So basically he's taking credit for making a decision that those before him weren't given the opportunity to make. Michael then exposes how the president's plan makes no sense in regards to his belief that the cells are life. If you believe the cells are life it doesn't matter what day you destroy them on, you're still destroying life. Actually Bush's whole reasoning that you shouldn't destroy life to save life is complete BS when you think of what he's doing with Iraq and how he calls the Iraqi civilians collateral damage. After Bush's stem cell veto The Daily Show did excellent coverage of the topic. You can check it out here, but you'll need to scroll down to where it says "Stem Cell Redux". I'd link to youtube, but apparently the show has been completely taken off the site.

The next segment of the interview begins with another question that relates to the private verus public sector issue. In Missouri the research is not illegal for the private sector and some think the government should stay out of it. However, Michael wonders why the government wouldn't want to invest in this. I find it baffling too. We used to be a country that was looking with excitement towards the future, like with the space race. Now what are we doing? Wouldn't it be great if the US lead the world in a cure for diseases that affect millions of people? Anderson then asks Michael what it's like to have the disease and he states that it's like being stuck in a car with teenagers that are going on a joyride that you have no control over. It must be terribly frustrating and scary too. Michael says his son calls him "shakey dad." Aw. Any tremors are from the disease, but the rocking that's so evident in this interview is called dyskinesia and is actually due to the medication he is taking. Anderson then brings up that some critics say he is just shilling for the democrats, but Michael says that he's the one that called them. What he did was seek out any pro stem cell candidate that was running against an anti stem cell candidate. They just all happened to be democrats, though in the past he has campaigned for republicans like Arlen Spector.

We then go back to Sanjay live to talk about dyskinesia and Sanjay explains that if Michael wasn't taking his medication he might not be able to move or even swallow his saliva. He also points out that most scientists believe that adult stem cells are not as good as embryonic stem cells because embryonic stem cells can be programmed to do anything.

Moving on to another perspective from David Prentice of the Family Research Council. Uh oh. Excuse me for being skeptical about anything someone from the FRC has to say. David here spits out a lot of technical information and I'm wondering how much of it is backed up by credible research. I guess I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. I can respect that people have a differing view on the issue than me and I actually have greater concerns about the whole slippery slope issue than probably most people would think, but he kind of loses me when he starts talking about the embryonic stem cells causing tumors and stuff. If he thinks that it's taking a life than the fact that it may or may not work right shouldn't even be an issue. It's like when people say they're against abortion except in the case of rape. If the issue is truly about the unborn then it shouldn't matter how that baby came to be. Anyway, he also talks about the some 400,000 embryos that are frozen right now and goes on to make some fairly wild claims about them. It reminds me of an issue of Mother Jones from this summer that did a really good cover story on the topic, which you can read here. It might surprise you. And here's a little more from that same issue.

During the commercials after this segment my area runs an anti stem cell research ad with several celebrities. Clever timing guys. In the last little bit of interview Michael says that he simply wants to give hope a chance. He points out that if we don't do it with the ethical oversight someone else will step in and do it without the oversight. And he's right. After the interview we get headlines from Erica and are informed that evangelical leader Ted Haggard has stepped down amid charges of regularly seeing a male prostitute. Haggard is big time with the Christian Right. This is huge. We also learn that overfishing might mean no more seafood within our lifetime. WTF? The Shot tonight is a rabbit named Toto who can open envelopes. I've gotta get me some smarter animals. But mine are so cute. The show tonight was good. I'm a little annoyed they didn't mention that Laura Bush also smeared Michael, but actually I'm not as mad as I thought I would be. I thought this would be more political, but it wasn't. It was mostly about the actual issue and that's what I want from my news. It's the reason I was so angered by the Kerry coverage. That issue was stupid and a distraction. This hour we got frank discussion about a real issue that matters. Bravo, 360. A-

Screencaps by stormi0611.

What are your feelings about stem cell research? Do you know someone who could benefit from it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...


You might enjoy this, Rush finally apologized:


2:48 AM  
Anonymous Mathilde said...

Michael J Fox blows me away, he is intelligent, informed, dignified-- everything Rush Limbaugh is not.
Nobody likes to talk about the fact that fertilized eggs are going to be discarded in the IVF process so if you are for banning abortion logically you should be against IVF too. What is with these people that "adopt" embryos? Do they put them in a jar like Sea Monkeys?

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Sharla said...

When Anderson said Rush declined, I actually yelled "chicken!" at my TV.

I've personally had Akistesia (I have no idea how to spell that) and I HAVE Essential Tremor. Akistesia is the "restless legs/urge to pace" problem (due to a medication I was taking) and it was AWFUL. Essential Tremor Essentially Sucks. It means I have a shaky hand and a grasping problem. It's why I drop things a lot- so I use my left usually.

Speaking of commercials, I got blasted for an entire hour with INVESTING and ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION.

And the bunny was adorable. What was even better was Anderson's reaction. His reaction to cute furry things is usually totally bizarre (hence you wondering if he was a Panda Hater or what) but this time he was grinning and laughing at the bunny. It was cute. Both.

My personal feelings about stem cell research should be pretty much easily summed up when I state that I am pro-life no exception. However, you are entitled to an opposite opinion and I'm not going to cry about it. I've got my opinion and no one is going to change it; it's the same for you I'm sure. Therefore, with our respective opinions stated, let's not harp on it :)

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think stem cell research should be carefully weighed pros and cons, there are so many different opinions from the medical field, but it doesn't take watching a person with Parkinson's disease too long to realize that if there's a good chance of it helping this and other diseases, it should definately be used.
I can't help but think of all the abortions that are done that could have been used for this very thing with the end result being positive.

9:54 AM  
Blogger courtney01 said...

Excellent recap of the show, Eliza.

I support stem cell research and will be voting yes for Amendment 2 on Tuesday. Diabetes runs in my family, so I suppose you could say we stand to benefit from any type of research, but that's not my main reason for voting yes. Ultimately, I feel it's an issue of compassion and hope. And I agree with you when you question what happened to this country's past desire to move forward technologically--though I think we still do so, but only in areas that don't "threaten" certain political groups, it seems.

I thought it wise for Anderson to mention they'd offered Rush a chance to stand up for himself--and I was not surprised he declined. Bullies are usually cowards, after all!

10:37 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

@anon-I wish Rush really would just go away, but I don't think that's going to happen.

@mathilde-I totally agree in regards to IVF. IMO, for someone to truely be pro-life and not be a hyprocrite they need to be against IVF, against abortion in all cases, against the death penalty in all cases, and against war in all cases. I think maybe Pope John Paul fit into that category, but it's an extreme view that I don't think most people who say they're pro-life subscribe to. My problem lies not with a pro-life view, but with the hyprocrisy that often comes with it.

In regards to adopting the eggs, my understanding is that it's really rare and really hard to do. And since most people don't want as many children as they have eggs, many get discarded. You should read that Mother Jones article I linked to. It's goes into all of this and some parts surprised me.

@anon-I agree. This research should in no way be taken lightly, but I can't help think that maybe this is actually a gift from God rather than a bad thing like the Christian Right thinks.

I'm reminded of that story of a man who finds out he is very sick and prays to God to help him. God tells him to not worry because He will take care of him. A doctor goes to the man offering help, but the man turns him away, saying he doesn't need his help because God will help him. Then the same thing happens with a surgeon, faith healer, and some others-with the man turning each one away. Finally, the man dies and when he gets to heaven he asks God why he didn't help him like he said and God replies, "I sent you a doctor, surgeon, and faith healer, what more did you want from me?" God works in mysterious ways and stem cell research may be a way of Him helping us help ourselves. I don't think cells are the same as human life.

@Courtney-I hope the amendment passes. I like it when journalists state that they've asked someone for an interview. I'm very big with full disclosure. Remember when he kept asking Mayor Nagin? Funny. And Sharla, I totally agree that Rush is a big old chicken.

11:55 AM  
Anonymous AndysGirl said...

I am probably going to make enemies with this comment but I have to say it. Where did people get the idea that Anderson hates panda bears? He didn't say he hated them. He said "he doesn't get it!" I took it to mean he doesn't get the fact that people use the panda as a promotional tool. For animal lovers, most animals are appealing but it's true, panda bears are used much more than other animals. I never took his comment to mean he hated pandas.

8:30 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@andysgirl-Out of all the controversial things discussed on this blog I don't think your interpetation of his panda comments are going to be what makes enemies. ;) I was always kidding when I referred to him as a panda hater.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Sharla said...

yeah, its a joke about Anderson not liking pandas :) Not everyone squeals with glee when seeing something cute and fuzzy.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Jenie said...

i didn't get to see the show, so i'm glad you recapped it. :) i like that michael j. fox, even if he *is* the anti-elvis. ;) have you seen that banking commercial on cnn about cloning? it's hysterical.

i also think it's hysterical andysgirl thinks the thing that'll get her hate comments is the panda thing. ;) i don't get why people are so nuts over pandas, either. they're okay but not really all that much cuter than any other animal. i guess pandas are the new koalas...

1:07 PM  

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