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Tony & Tacky
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November 26, 2004



PAUL GIGOT: We call it Tony and Tacky, our choices for the best and worst of the week.

From Chile, this remarkable scene, President Bush having to rescue his lead secret service agent from a shoving match with the Chilean police. It turns out it was more than a misunderstanding. Dorothy, tony or tacky?

DOROTHY RABINOWITZ: Tacky, but only for the President of Chile. This is a hands-on President of the United States, as you can see. But it turns out that the President of Chile's secret service did not wish Mr. Bush's own lead secret service people to enter. They were going to run the show. Then, to make things better, the President of Chile decided to disinvite all the guests at the dinner because they would have to enter a metal detector. And as one of the offended guests said, we are not going to be asked to go through any gringo security. Gringo? And you can imagine the uproar you'd be hearing if anybody in official Washington would have used a racially tinged term like that.

Well, it's been explained that the President of Chile had certain things to accomplish. One of them is to stand tall against American unilateralism and power, and he chose this symbolic way. Well, understood. So a large, juicy tacky for the President of Chile. Bon appetit.

PAUL GIGOT: All right. Thank you, Dorothy. Susan Lee wants to take note of this testimony from Merck's CEO defending his handling of Vioxx, the drug that was pulled from the market after it caused heart attacks.

RAY GILMARTIN: I believed wholeheartedly in Vioxx. In fact, my wife was taking Vioxx, using Vioxx, up until the day we withdrew it from the market.

PAUL GIGOT: Susan, how do you feel about this one?

SUSAN LEE: Well, there are two very notable aspects to Ray Gilmartin's testimony. First of all, no lawyers, no PR persons. He just sat there at the table by himself. Second of all, he did not try and shift blame, and he did not pretend that he wasn't in on the decision or the process.

Now in the past three years, we've seen a huge parade of CEOs behaving badly. And it's no wonder that most Americans now think that all CEOs are sleazy. So I'm going to give a big tony to Ray Gilmartin for showing that some CEOs can actually be decent and straightforward.

PAUL GIGOT: Yeah, I agree with you. He does seem like a guy who's trying to do the right thing here, Susan. Thank you.

And finally, Ron Artest. Our award to him does not result from his amazing and appalling bad behavior, leading the fight with fans after the Pacers-Pistons game. It has to do with his view of how much work should be expected of him, views expressed before he was suspended for brawling. Dan, I think I know where you're going with this.

DAN HENNINGER: Yeah, well, boys will be boys. But the tacky is for what Ron Artest did a week before the fight. It's when he told his team that he wanted to take a month off from playing because he was tired promoting his new rap album. Well, his coach jumped down his throat and his reply was, "Gee, I guess they expect me to play every game." You know, that's sort of like the Enron executive saying, "Gee, I guess they expected us to disclose all those off-the-book investments to shareholders." Or Janet Jackson saying, "Gee, I guess they expected me to know there were 70 million families watching the Super Bowl." Yeah, I guess so.

I mean, it's all well and good to stand up to community standards from time to time. But most of the people doing it nowadays are making themselves look foolish, vain, and self-destructive. As to Ron Artest, he's now got the year off, without pay.

PAUL GIGOT: And the Pacer season is probably over. And the way they've defended him -- the organization has defended him -- probably it should be. Thanks, Dan.

That's it for this edition of THE JOURNAL EDITORIAL REPORT. Thank you from all of us. We hope you'll join us again next time.