Karl Rove, the political adviser to the last US president who was often called "Bush's Brain", was happy to defend old friends on Newsnight last night against the charge from Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former head of MI5, that George Bush's White House had been influenced by the TV series 24.
Bush, he told us, only ever watched sport on television - he neglected to mention that Bush struggled even with that if rogue pretzels were involved - and that while Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were big 24 fans it was laughable to suggest that waterboarding and rendition and all that was dreamt up after a marathon session of Jack Bauer.
"Dick Cheney is fully capable of distinguishing between fact and fiction," Rove said, although that didn't stop a Republican group led by Cheney's daughter, Liz, from recently recording a 24-style attack ad on Barack Obama's limpness in the face of terrorism, complete with ticking clock, multiple images on one screen and other items designed to make people think that 24 was very much a reality.
With delightfully shameless hypocrisy, the Cheney ad mocks Obama for playing golf in the aftermath of the foiled terrorist attack last Christmas. Yet it was Bush in 2002 who addressed a press conference from the first tee of a Maine golf course after suicide bombers had struck in Israel, ending by saying: "I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive."
Although that was quite funny.
The Rove interview came hard on the heels of news yesterday that, one year into Obama's presidency, Fox has decided to cancel 24, which had started with a bang (several bangs, in fact) in 2001 but rapidly became rather dull and samey, not to mention expensive. Perhaps it was just not zeitgeisty enough any more. Terrorism is not a subject for the Noughties.
Perhaps Fox will replace it with a more relevant series in which people sit around worrying about their credit card debt levels or switching off the lights in a vain hope that it might save the planet.
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