Politics, cars, golf and game shows

On Tuesday, we can observe Toyota's dynastic leader and the members of his court will do the same kind of thing as they try and prove that their conduct has not been INhuman. In this instance the charges are that what Whooziz did to a few dozen groupies, Toyota did to millions of customers.

In between the ritual apologies worthy of Brenda Lee, we can be entertained by the chorus of sound bites, delivered by opportunistic members of the congressional committees, with their twaddles flapping in full outrage.

They will probably drown out any real truth, such as explanations about newly revealed documents. There are memos that seem to illustrate how the company's government relations people could thwart meaningful regulatory action that might have prevented so many deaths in their careening-out-of-control cars.

There probably will not be much discussion, either, about how the company's lobbyists were able to keep things under control with their influence-peddling and well-placed campaign contributions, if, for no other reason, than the fact that Toyota has significantly ratcheted up its lobbying operation in recent days.

Even if little is accomplished, this is worth watching. It offers a good chance to witness how government works. Or doesn't.

An even better one will be the extravaganza where President Obama invites the Republicans to the White House for a beer Thursday. Actually, it's Blair House across the street, the guest mansion, and there won't be any beer this time. Chances are, though, this will be every bit as meaningful as that gimmick last summer.

Even though we're already sick and tired of hearing how the president is finally living up to his campaign promise and inviting C-SPAN into the healthcare deliberations, he's finally living up to his campaign promise and inviting C-SPAN into the healthcare deliberations. TV doesn't get any better than this.

Those who find political intrigue entertaining will love this situation comedy. Actually, it's also a game show, tightly scripted like most of them. Each wary contestant will read off of carefully prepared talking points about why the others' healthcare reform plans are either political obstructionism or godless communism, and nothing will be accomplished. But it will be great shtick, and isn't that what's important here?

Perhaps, after the lights have faded, all the performers, the whole sorry lot, can retire to some sort of rehab. Or maybe WE should, where we can learn how to do a better job of choosing those we believe in and discerning what little is real and what's made for television.


Visit Mr. Franken's website at www.bobfranken.tv.