Think different, act identical

Life is random: As a longtime Macintosh fan, Bites nearly sat on its own iPod while perusing a recent list of donors to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s favorite political front group. Somehow, Bites never imagined that Apple—the computer company that encourages consumers to “Think Different” and markets itself as the mother of all alternative brands—would be in bed with Citizens to Save California, the right-wing “reform” group that successfully sued the California Fair Political Practices Commission in order to ensure that the Governator be freed from all those silly campaign-finance regulations that have plagued lesser mortals.

Granted, Steve Jobs’ company donated a mere $5,000—not even enough to buy a six-pack of Mac Minis let alone compete with mega-donors like Univision billionaire A. Jerrold Perenchio, who coughed up a whopping $1.5 million. But it’s still enough for the company’s name to be placed alongside such other counterculture, progressive luminaries as ChevronTexaco, CarMax and the California Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association.

Apple’s press office had no comment.

Still smarting: Speaking of companies that think different, Enron is coming back to California, but this time in a much less dangerous form. Alex Gibney, the director of Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, will be making a little side trip out this way following the film’s San Francisco premiere. The filmmaker will be in Sacramento on Monday, April 25, to speak at a 6 p.m. screening of his documentary at the Crest Theatre. A representative for Senator Joe Dunn, who’s sponsoring the screening, said that, unlike the governor’s recent Be Cool screening, there would be no groping or grilling of public servants. “If nurses in uniform show up for our premiere, we’ll be sure to treat them with the respect that they deserve,” said Dunn mouthpiece Jim Evans (who once wrote for this paper before crossing over to the dark side). Former Enron lobbyists, however, will be required to wear a scarlet E to the showing. For complimentary tickets, call Dunn’s office at (916) 651-4034.

Who spun what: There’s shameless propaganda, and then there’s unabashed spin. Last week, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez put some serious rotation on his criticism of recent point-of-view-laden video news releases (VNRs) emanating from a couple of state departments, confusing both Bites and the issue.

The Democratic leader’s press office put out a taxpayer-funded paper press release—or PPR—declaring a bizarre sort of victory.

Núñez had “called upon” the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate the legality of “mock news videos.” (Others have criticized the Bush administration for the exact same thing.)

Last week, when the FCC sent out a public notice, Núñez lauded the FCC for its “unanimous ruling.” “Today … it is clearer than ever that what the Administration did with its mock news videos was wrong,” Núñez stated.

But hold on a second. Let’s un-spin.

The FCC made no ruling regarding Schwarzenegger or Bush or the recently criticized VNRs. It simply issued a public notice, reiterating current law and asking for public comment on the issue.

Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein even said as much: “In issuing the public notice, the Commission, of course, takes no position on recent controversies surrounding the appropriateness of the government creating and developing VNRs.”

Oh, and the FCC didn’t even take action because of Núñez’s call to action, as his press folks insinuate. Tens of thousands of regular old citizens—probably in the form of fill-in-the-blanks mass e-mails—contacted the FCC, it said.

The unfortunate understatement of the century regarding VNRs came from Commissioner Michael J. Copps: “In the era of huge corporate media, it has gotten just about impossible to tell the difference between news and entertainment or to differentiate between legitimate information and propaganda.”

And so, in the interest of full disclosure and ultimate clarity, Bites states for the record that this column is a little bit of each.

No porn: Across the Sheraton Grand hallway from the adult-entertainment industry’s legislative forum on Monday—a panel discussion called “Today’s Porn: Entertainment or Addiction”—Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, R-Orange, hosted a $1,000-a-ticket reception. The conservative Spitzer, to Bites’ surprise, did not stop by the forum, which was attended by such porn icons as Dave Cummings and Nina Hartley.