Friday, June 17, 2005

The Gov in full Bush mode

You know the drill: Everything is secret, all publicity is stage managed, nothing is real except for the official television images, "loyalty" is the only litmus test.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that protesters were banned when the Gov held a festive ceremony in Princess Anne on Maryland's Eastern Shore to personally deny Wal-Mart employees the right to health care.

The Maryland legislature passed a bill that would have required large employers to provide health insurance to all employees. The legislation wasn't totally altruistic. Each year, Wal-Mart costs Maryland taxpayers millions because so many of their employees qualify for Medicaid (I've heard that Wal-Mart provides employees with instructions on how to apply).

I guess that the legislature's calling for even a meager level of corporate responsibility must have offended the Gov's corporate patrons. So, the Gov made sure that no one else's reality would intrude on the merry spectacle of vetoing the bill.

Here's Michael Olesker's column on the subject

The Gov's patrons at Wal-Mart have commissioned a "reality" TV show to counteract all this bad publicity (I swear I'm not making this up!):

"For the first time, Wal-Mart Stores is becoming a major sponsor of a reality television show, by signing a branded-entertainment agreement with ABC for "The Scholar," a summer series that begins a six-week run on Monday night. Wal-Mart will be woven into the plots of episodes of the show, which is centered on a competition among 10 high school seniors from across the country for a grand prize of a full college scholarship, valued at $250,000, covering tuition and expenses.

The students will compete in a variety of academic, creative and social tasks, including team challenges, oral exams and defending themselves before a scholarship committee. In one challenge, the five members of the winning team each receive a $2,000 Wal-Mart gift card to outfit their dormitory rooms. And Wal-Mart is underwriting the cost of the scholarships for the nine runners-up, totaling $300,000. (The Broad Foundation in Los Angeles is donating the grand prize.)

There will also be commercials during the show promoting the Wal-Mart and Sam's Club Foundation's long-running program offering scholarships to students in towns where it operates stores and distribution centers. The foundation said yesterday that it would provide more than $6.9 million in scholarships this year to more than 6,700 students through the Sam M. Walton Community Scholarship Program, named after the company's founder."

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