Nearly eight weeks before six medical doctors were arrested for their involvement in the late June terrorist attempted car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow, ABC's "Boston Legal" drama -- which has its 90-minute season premiere tonight (Tuesday) -- aired an episode which ridiculed the idea a doctor could be a terrorist.
In the May 8 episode, titled "Guantanamo by the Bay," attorney "Alan Shore," played by James Spader, takes up the case of British citizen "Benyam Kallah" suing the government, oddly in state court, over Kallah's torture at the Guantanamo Bay facility after he was picked up in Afghanistan where he claims he was doing "humanitarian" work. On the witness stand, Kallah describes the torture and how a friend detained with him couldn't take the torture any longer and so committed suicide. Concluding the scene meant to show the silliness and incompetence of the military for detaining such obviously innocent men, Shore asked: "Was your friend a terrorist?" Kallah replied: "No, he was a doctor."
Pressed by the Massachusetts state court judge about jurisdictional questions, Shore launched into a political diatribe: "Okay. I realize the jurisdictional barriers are prohibitive but, your honor, we don't let the little things like the law stand in our way in this great country. The law, for example, recognizes the Geneva Convention but we say, 'the Hell with it.' The law has very strict regulations on domestic wiretapping and we say, 'the Hell with it.' The law says if you shoot somebody with a shotgun mistaking him for a quail you really should call the police."
Shore is victorious as the case is heard and the judge rejects the government's motion to dismiss the case.
At the very end of the show, "Denny Crane," a pompous and misinformed lawyer who is Hollywood's idea of a prejudiced and chauvinistic conservative, contends: "We would never be in Guantanamo if it weren't for Hillary Clinton." The reasoning of Crane, played by William Shatner: "Bill Clinton would never have lied in the deposition. He wouldn't have risked impeachment. So what if the sexual indiscretion [indecipherable] the public would have forgiven him. But Hillary! The reason he lied is because he was afraid Hillary would find out. That's why he was impeached. That's why Al Gore didn't win. And after all that impeachment scandal crap, the public would have elected any fool other than a Democrat."
On the attempted terrorist attacks in Britain in late June in which car bombs were discovered in London and a car exploded at the Glasgow airport, the Washington Post reported on July 8: "The eight suspects detained by police are highly educated and have overlapping family, work and school links. Six are foreign doctors or trainee doctors working in British hospitals; two of the doctors inquired about continuing their medical training in the United States."
Previous MRC CyberAlert items on liberal politics in the ABC drama:
The January 18 MRC CyberAlert item (with video), "ABC's 'Boston Legal' Takes Cheap Shots at GOP and Dick Cheney," recounted:
Tuesday's Boston Legal prime time drama on ABC was packed full of political jabs at congressional Republicans and Vice President Cheney. Buffoonish conservative lawyer "Denny Crane" (played by William Shatner) was placed on the "No Fly List" and when liberal lawyer "Alan Shore" (played by James Spader) asked if Crane had called for help, he responded: "Well, I can't get anybody. I called Tom DeLay, his number's disconnected. Foley has got his hands full, Frist said, "Don't take it personally." I called Clarence Thomas; his office said he was indisposed." Shore then asked, "Have you tried going right to the top?" Crane replied: "Cheney?" Shore also linked being "red, white and blue" with not reading newspapers and got in a slap at Cheney in a quip about avoiding "the rich friend who will take you to his quail ranch and let you shoot him."The March 21, 2006 CyberAlert article (with two video clips), "ABC's Boston Legal Airs Anti-Bush Tirade that Raises McCarthy Era," reported:
Another episode of ABC's prime time drama Boston Legal will air tonight (Tuesday). Last week's episode featured a plot line with over-the-top lawyer "Alan Shore," played by James Spader, delivering a five-minute-long closing argument, in defense of a woman who wouldn't pay income taxes, railing against the war on terrorism. Earlier, explaining to Shore her reasoning, the woman, "Melissa Hughes," cited how her grandfather, who fought in World War I, would be "embarrassed" by "what's happening today."After a tip from a fiend of mine, I asked since-departed MRC intern Michael Lanza to watch the May 8 episode and take down some of the dialog:
She listed "us torturing people, spying on our own people, squashing everybody's civil liberties. My grandfather would weep." To which Shore got in an obvious slap at FNC: "You need to change the channel. The awful things you speak of never happen on the 'fair and balanced' newscasts." In his closing, Shore cited a litany of misdeeds, including: "When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out not to be true, I expected the American people to rise up....And, now it's been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens -- you and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, FINALLY, the American people will have had enough. Evidently, we haven't."
Shore soon compared the current climate to that of the McCarthy era, recalling what he read in a book by Adlai Stevenson: "Too often, sinister threats to the bill of rights, to freedom of the mind, 'are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-communism.' Today, it's the cloak of anti-terrorism."
# Scene in law firm's office:
"BENYAM KALLAH," PLAYED BY T.J. RAMINI: I was tortured by agents of the United States. I should get to sue the United States.
"DENNY CRANE," PLAYED BY WILLIAM SHATNER: I don't know what tribe you're from, sport, but this is America. Human rights are so yesterday here; get with the program. (Looks at Spader) What?
"ALAN SHORE," PLAYED BY PLAYED BY JAMES SPADER: Mr. Kallah, you can thank Denny Crane, he's just persuaded me to take your case.
# In state courtroom, after judge says suing the federal government over Guantanamo belongs in federal court:
"JUDGE MARIANNA FOLGER," PLAYED BY BERNADETTE PETERS: Thirty seconds as to why I should entertain this lawsuit.
SHORE: Okay. I realize the jurisdictional barriers are prohibitive but, your honor, we don't let the little things like the law stand in our way in this great country. The law, for example, recognizes the Geneva Convention but we say, "the Hell with it." The law has very strict regulations on domestic wiretapping and we say, "the Hell with it." The law says if you shoot somebody with a shotgun mistaking him for a quail you really should call the police.
JUDGE FOLGER: Mr. Shore!
SHORE: We're cowboys, judge. We do what we want whether it's starting wars, changing daylight savings time, we like to play it fast and loose in this country, making it up as we go along.
# Scene in law firm office:
CRANE: Don't like you representing a Commie terrorist.
SHORE: He's not a terrorist.
CRANE: Can't you just once be for this country.
SHORE: I am for this country, I love this country.
CRANE: And can't you just once love George Bush.
SHORE: Well, that presents a slightly bigger challenge. But I'll tell you what, invite him to go fishing with us.
CRANE: The President?
SHORE: Why not?
CRANE: I doubt he knows how to fish.
SHORE, sarcastically: Denny, he's leader of the free world. Surely he must be capable of outsmarting a salmon.
# Scene in court room:
SHORE: Mr. Kallah, you've stated that you were tortured. Can you give us an example?
KALLAH, ON WITNESS STAND: I was beaten; repeatedly deprived of sleep. I was forced to wear a hood over my head, sometimes for days. I was sexually humiliated.
SHORE: How so?
KALLAH: I'd rather not go into it.
SHORE: And what else?
KALLAH: I was forced to lie in a fetal position, my eyes and my mouth duct taped. The worst part is that we felt it was forever. We we're never going to be released, never going to get a trial. One man, Ali, a friend, was arrested with me.
SHORE: What happened to your friend, sir.
KALLAH: Finally he couldn't take it. He hung himself.
SHORE: He committed suicide?
KALLAH: The Pentagon called it "manipulative self-injurious behavior: an act of asymmetric warfare engaged against the United States."
SHORE: Was your friend a terrorist?
KALLAH: No, he was a doctor.
# Scene at law firm:
CRANE, smoking a cigar: You're making a big mistake.
SHORE, ALSO SMOKING A CIGAR: Tell me.
CRANE: Nobody cares. Guantanamo "schmantamo," this is America. We don't care.
SHORE: Why is that, Denny. The United States is torturing people, denying them any semblance of due process. How did we suddenly become a people who don't care?
SHORE: Ha. 9/11 just gives us carte blanche to abolish human rights? How can that be so?
CRANE: First it's so, because God said so. He told Bush. Second, we don't care 'cause it's happening in some Third World country; we can't relate.
SHORE, DISGUSTED: It's happening in Cuba! A few hundred miles [sic] off the coast of Florida. You remember Florida, Denny. God told them to punch the wrong chad.
CRANE: Alan, today it's help the Cubans, tomorrow it's let's go to Darfur and help the "Darfurians." We can't be there for everybody.
SHORE: That can't make sense even to you.
CRANE: You want to make sense of it all? Here it is: we don't care about human rights; that's the old America. Now we just don't want to get blown up. Simple as that. Eh, torture a few Cubans along the way, big deal. They're not Americans, not happening here. So we don't care. And the judge won't either. Oh she's sexy, I'll give you that. And nasty too I'll bet. Think she's nasty?
# IN COURT ROOM, SHORE IN HIS CLOSING ARGUMENT, SARCASTICALLY:
We're in a war! We need to make sacrifices! And we should start with the little things, like human rights. I agree that the executive branch has a particular expertise. In fact, I think they've been brilliant. Calling the prisoners "enemy combatants" instead of prisoners so we can end run the Geneva Convention and torture them? Brilliant. Basing the camp in Cuba so the Constitution won't really get in our way? Brilliant. And under the Pentagon's new draft guidelines, this is my favorite, I'm sure it will be yours, we'll have little tribunals in Guantanamo that'll allow suspects to be jailed for life. Or even executed on evidence that would never be admissible in civilian or military court. Imagine being able to execute somebody on triple hearsay, or on a totally coerced confession. Brilliant!
(The judge denies government's motion to dismiss.)
# DENNY CRANE AT VERY END OF THE SHOW SMOKING CIGARS WITH SHORE ON A BALCONY AT THE LAW FIRM:
We would never be in Guantanamo if it weren't for Hillary Clinton....Bill Clinton would never have lied in the deposition. He wouldn't have risked impeachment. So what if the sexual indiscretion [indecipherable] the public would have forgiven him. But Hillary! The reason he lied is because he was afraid Hillary would find out. That's why he was impeached. That's why Al Gore didn't win. And after all that impeachment scandal crap, the public would have elected any fool other than a Democrat. Cut to:
SHORE: George W.
CRANE: All because of a woman scorned.