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Time's Slanted Century Polls

One has to wonder why Time magazine seems determined to make a fool of itself at least once annually with its Person of the Year award. No, I don't mean the ruckus caused by giving the award to monsters like Adolf Hitler and Khomeini: Time was not judging them on their merits but on their importance, and as such they were justifiable winners.

I mean choosing "Endangered Earth", as they did in 1989. Or their pick for Man of the Decade in 1990, when they might have selected Ronald Reagan, whose domestic policies gave our country its biggest peacetime economic expansion in history while his foreign policy drove the Soviet Union into the trashcan of history. Somehow the Gipper didn't qualify; the award went to that other grand success story, Mikhail Gorbachev.

Now Time's at it again. Visit their website to see their nominations for the Man of the Century. It won't tell you too much about the most important people these past hundred years but it will tell you boatloads about Time magazine.

From the start Time's had problems. It left it up to the public to make the nominations, and by an overwhelming margin the poor, uneducated and easy-to-command types chose Jesus Christ. Well, that wouldn't do, so Time yanked the Son of God from consideration, announcing it had to be a "living" person, an interesting qualifier since in 1983 Time chose The Computer.

Thousands of nominations reportedly poured in and Time culled it down to a final list of 40, in five different fields. Some of the names on the final list are perfectly acceptable - Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and the like. Some are controversial - Hitler, Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong - but understandable.

But if you were making your list of the top "Heroes and Icons," would you choose Che Guevara? The Kennedys? How about - I do not kid you here - Bruce Lee? As the century's greatest "Builders and Titans" would you have nominated ... Lucky Luciano? In the category "Artists and Entertainers" would you have chosen ... Bart Simpson?

It gets better. Time gives several different end-of-the-century awards, one of them going for the "Phonies and Frauds of the Century." The magazine's rules state that "All presidents, prime ministers and top politicians ... were disqualified on grounds that they are generally recognized as professionals in this field."

Out of thousands nominated, the Time staff chose 40 for this category but subsequently took nine off the finalist list because it "originally included a number of religious leaders. But we are convinced by protests from offended supporters that their inclusion, no matter how well justified their behavior, might well stimulate an attitude of contempt for others' religious beliefs."

Or they may have figured it might look interesting, to say the least, to exclude Jesus from one poll and then tout nine separate religious leaders as phonies and frauds in another.

So who made Time's Top 30, from which you can choose the "worst scammer, con artist, media manipulator, grifter, liar or charlatan"? Within those parameters one can understand some of the selections, like Don King, Timothy Leary, Johnnie Cochran, Geraldo Rivera and Charles Ponzi.

But then there's Senator Joe McCarthy and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. How did these top politicians merit inclusion into a list that excludes top politicians?

You can find J. Edgar Hoover, William Westmoreland and Ken Starr on the list, but not Bill Clinton, the worst scammer, con artist, media manipulator, grifter, liar charlatan this century. His wife is missing, too.

Bill Gates makes the list, which I suspect makes Windows the biggest con, and him the most successful petty swindler in history.

You have to have been a pretty awful person to make this list. "Allegations of stupidity, venality or contemptibility, however impressive, were not sufficient to place a candidate on the list," the fair-minded judges at Time intone. "A candidate must also be suspected of deception or hypocrisy."

Oh, so that's how Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura Schlessinger made the list. It isn't because these two conservative talk show hosts enjoy some of the top ratings in the history of communications; it's because they do so through deception and hypocrisy.

What a joke this list is.

Why can't we vote for Alger Hiss? Anita Hill? Al Sharpton and the Tawana Brawley hoaxmeisters? Environmental doomsayers like Paul Ehrlich? Ralph Nader? Every member of Congress who voted Bill Clinton not guilty? When the liberal elite complain about the Internet being crammed with unreliable, hateful attempts at pseudo-journalism, they need only log on to Time.com to find all the evidence they need.