by William Moultrie
Washington, DC – An upcoming segment of Ken Burns’ new documentary, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” will prominently feature South Carolina’s Senator Jim DeMint. The episode deals with some of the more contemporary issues facing the park system and the heroic politicians who have stepped forward and left their mark on this national treasure.
Highlights of the upcoming episode.
“I’m flattered, really I am,” said Senator DeMint. “Generally I don’t care for PBS and I had my cable company block it from my neighborhood, but to be grouped in the same series with people like Teddy Roosevelt is really an honor. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to see it though, since I’m certainly not going to cut a check to PBS for the DVD, and nobody I know will admit to watching it in their own homes.”
Topics covered will include oil drilling, snowmobiling, logging roads, ranching rights, and of course, the DeMint-sponsored legislation that allows park visitors to carry loaded weapons. Sarah Palin also has a prominent role.
“He is definitely not grouped with Teddy Roosevelt,” said Milton Horndash, documentary programing director for Public Television. “The truth of the matter is that this project got underway during the Bush administration and we were forced to add an episode of ‘Congressional Heros’ under threat of the White House killing the whole project and locking us out of the parks altogether. Of course the new administration is more friendly to our way of thinking, but we decided to air it anyway. Frankly, the average PBS viewer will find it fairly hilarious and I’m pretty sure all the right-wingers have sworn off ETV anyway. Also, we’ll be removing the tagline ‘America’s Best Idea’ from this segment.”
“It’ll be interesting to see what people think,” said Burns. “For years people have been telling me that all you have to do is put together some slow pans of pretty vistas with a celebrity narrator and people will love it, regardless of the topic. I guess this will test that theory. Also, I let one of my production assistants write, direct, and shoot the whole thing, so it’ll be good a good experience for him; plus Kathy Griffin will be narrating. Actually, I haven’t seen it yet, so at least one person will be watching.”
Air times will vary as this episode won’t be aired along with the rest of the series. At press time, SCETV had yet to decide on a broadcast date. They issued a statement saying that they were consulting with lawyers to determine if DeMint’s prominent role would trigger equal-time rules in relation to his re-election campaign.
“They should really try to show it before the next election,” DeMint said, “because if we get back in the majority, I’m pretty sure the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is going on the chopping block, as well as the NEA and any of those other artsy-fartsy groups that put this kind of stuff together. But just to be clear, I really am honored.”