"Letter to the Center for Rural Strategies" By Senator Kit Bond

Thanks to the Center for Rural Studies for opposing CBS television's "The Real Beverly Hillbillies" show. This program would select a real family from a rural part of our country area and put them on display in a Beverly Hills mansion for the amusement of the viewing public.

I suspect such a show would reveal less about the unlucky family and more about the moral and creative bankruptcy of the once-respected CBS. What's next? Live hit-and-run coverage? A show called "Bad News in the Emergency Room?" Or how about a show named "We Found Something Troubling on Your CAT Scan."

It seems the network's new formula for success is: one part voyeurism mixed with one part Schadenfreude. I personally believe that the networks do not - and should not - have an endless claim on the public airwaves for programming aimed at appealing to lowest of human appetites.

If Hollywood really wanted to produce the ultimate "reality show," I suggest they take a hand-full of Hollywood writers, directors and producers and drop them off somewhere in the fly-over country between New York City and Los Angeles.

Without their publicists, personal assistants and trainers, these Left Coasters would be expected to grow food for others to eat. Or assemble things like cars or tractors for other people to use. They would have to feed, clothe and bathe their own kids without nannies. We could film them cleaning their own houses and even cooking their own meals. They would attend church bake sales, volunteer with the local fire department and even be expected to help their elderly neighbors from time to time. My goodness, we would have to call the show "Cruel and Unusual Punishment!"

The irony is that the unique American spirit that Hollywood has idolized for decades - a mix of rugged individualism, strong family ties, hard work and bravery - was born in rural America. From our farms, ranches and hill country came the people that built the bridges that spanned our great rivers, riveted beams into the skyscrapers from Los Angeles to Chicago and New York and fought and won our wars.

They are proud and we owe them our continuing gratitude. They deserve better from CBS.

Senator Kit Bond