Here’s to Shatner

Once upon a time, in a recording studio far, far away, I worked with William Shatner. He was in to do some narration for the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium (now the Rose Center). He was rude, arrogant and downright awful. But, as the then-director of the Planetarium put it, “We have to use him; he’s Cpt. Kirk!” One of my more memorable recording sessions, but not one of my favorite.

Bill Shatner’s mellowed over the years. He’s learned to laugh at himself, and he’s learned to exploit his <um> “acting talents” to good effect, especially comedy. On Boston Legal, he played a far-right Republican. In real life, William Shatner is somewhat to left of most liberal Democrats.

For the past couple of years, Shatner’s been doing a somewhat unconventional “chat show” on the Bio Channel — William Shatner’s Raw Nerve. Shatner chats with a single guest, the two seated in an s-shaped “love seat” type chair, facing each other. Shatner’s recent guest:  Rush Limbaugh. Now, the ever-corpulent (physically and mentally) Rushbo has been making the rounds, doing what Rush usually does:  make up shit and pull supposed “facts” and opinions out of his ass. The man lies. Or perhaps he believe the bullshit, but I think not. I think it’s all done in the interest of keeping Rush in the “news” and getting ratings and raking in money. I’m cynical that way. (Rush should never have allowed cameras into his studio while doing his radio show. Not only does he spend half the time pulling his short off his huge, sweaty body, but am I the only one to notice that most of the time he’s reading from a script? That’s right. It’s long been rumored that el Rushbo’s “opinions” are in fact written for him by a squad of writers. And it’s not just notes; he does seem to be reading verbatim off the paper in front of him.

Anyway, leave it Bill Shatner to boldly go where no “legitimate” newsperson (let alone a single Republican) would go. Shatner posited the theory that, if you are rich, you get good health care in the United States; if you’re poor, you don’t. Limbaugh countered with “if you have money, you can afford a beach house; if you don’t, you live in a bugalow.” But, protested Shatner, this is health care we’re talking about. Limbaugh said he saw no difference.

Wow. At least an admission that the far right believes in “them that’s gots gets more; them that’s nots, fuck ’em.” Now, I suppose that’s a legitimate political philosophy. But do most of us really want to live in a country where people are dying in the richest country in the world for lack of health care?

It really is a question of morality. You either believe in some kind of communal common interest and taking care of each other, or you don’t. And William Shatner seems to be among the few in the media willing to articulate that.

Needless to say, if I ever have a chance to work with Bill Shatner again, I will not hesitiate to do so. Shatner rules!