Just Above Sunset
December 12, 2004 - The Environment and Wayne Newton

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There is not much comment in these pages on environmental issues and this administration - but one needs to remind that a previous Secretary of the Interior – 1981, the Reagan years – had a born-again view of how to be a responsible steward of our forests and parks and all that.


"James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, 'after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.'"
- on the Bill Moyers show…


Chop down a tree for Jesus?  No one is saying such things now.  This is progress.


Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, adds –


File this under "Ironies of History" (which unfortunately always seem to cast people I don't really like in a favorable light - but what can I say except that that's the price I pay for being a liberal?) -


Do you remember in the early 1980s, when James Watt ruled against the Beach Boys playing at some event at a National Park, only to be overruled by the Reagan White House because Ronnie and Nancy happened to be big fans of the Beach Boys?  I think that particular moment marked the beginning of the end of Watt's political career.


Maybe so…


Yeah - one remembers that.  Watt wanted Wayne Newton.  He got Brian Wilson - hopped up on drugs and in and out of clinical depression - more a Reagan kind of guy in the end.


A little background –


This on the Beach Boys -


They played the first of their Fourth of July concerts at the Washington Monument in 1980, returning again in 1981.  Banned in 1983 by then Secretary of the Interior James Watt, The Beach Boys returned to the monument on July 4, 1984 by a personal invitation from the First Lady Nancy Reagan after a national uproar.  The concerts in 1984 and 1985 were attended by crowds of approximately 750,000 people. 


And this from a Wayne Newton fan site -


Wayne Newton popped into my life again a few years later, when then-Secretary of the Interior James Watt axed a July 4th Beach Boys concert on Washington D.C.'s Mall since he thought the Boys would attract the "wrong element."  Watt's idea of a replacement?  Mr. Wayne Newton himself.  Ironically, the Beach Boys (or at least that creepy Mike Love) had been longtime supporters of Watt's boss, President Ronald Reagan.  Anyway, since Watt's move seemed so anti-rock 'n' roll, I was angry about it, but now it's obvious to me that Wayne Newton is just as cool as the Beach Boys.  And sometimes cooler.  I mean, of course Pet Sounds clobbers practically everything Wayne Newton's ever recorded, but "Kokomo" vs. "Danke Schöen?"  You make the call. 


No.  Let that rest.


And some cultural background from Bob Patterson, our Ace Columnist –


When I arrived at Lake Tahoe to work on the newspaper there, I was very surprised when I learned that the locals held Wayne Newton in the highest regard.


At first, I thought they were joshing me.  They were serious because the casinos loved him because he drew the locals into the casinos.  Why?  Because he had worked himself up from the level of "lounge act" to the smaller show rooms, to the headliner at the biggest venues.


He was regarded as a "local boy makes good" type act.


Yeah, the LA part of me supports the Beach Boys, but the Tahoe part of me defends Wayne Newton.  He was very popular with the locals up at Tahoe.  I can only assume the same hold true in Vegas.


Do I like Wayne Newton?


Isn't the official state motto for Nevada: "You bet!"


Newton is mostly harmless.  James Watt was dangerous.  This administration is marginally better.  But not much.  It’s hard to trust them if you review things like this -


The Bush Environmental Record: An Unprecedented Assault on our Health and Heritage - and click on each category.  It’s not pretty. 


The White House version of the same facts is here.



Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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