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Conventional wisdom has it that the “morality voters” who rose to such prominence in this election voted for President Bush because of their opposition to gay marriage. But that is a complete misreading of why the morality voters dumped John Kerry.

In reality, the No. 1 moral issue for most Americans is not gay marriage, but the foul and sleazy culture which is destroying their children’s innocence. And it was John Kerry’s alignment with Hollywood and its celebrities – who came out in full force for his elevation – that ultimately did him in.

Pity the poor people of Hollywood. They wanted to believe they were more than just entertainers. They wanted to be kingmakers. They wanted some respect. Bruce Springsteen told America: I am more than just a guy who strums a guitar and hums. I make and break presidents. I am the power behind the throne. And if I throw my weight behind a candidate, they’re gonna win.

Eminem was convinced that he was the October surprise, the Messiah coming to Kerry’s rescue. Kerry’s candidacy was in steep decline, and Eminem decided to bring salvation by applying the enormous influence he has on the country. He was the pied-piper who was going to lead millions of young people into John Kerry’s camp.

The same was true of Barbra Streisand, Whoopi Goldberg, Linda Ronstadt, REM, Cher, Rosie O’Donnell and countless others. You thought they were just people who memorize someone else’s lines in front of a camera. Boy, were you mistaken. They were the real leaders of this country, keepers of the Zeitgeist. They were going to change the political direction of the nation and get the respect they deserve by ridding America of a monster.

And in the end it all amounted to … a hill of beans.

What our damaged, Hollywood self-proclaimed deities discovered is that in serious circles, they lack any influence. They’re opinions mean nothing. They are a big bunch of jokes – not kingmakers, but court-jesters; not influential, just entertaining.

Everyone wants respect, and for all their money, cars and women, our Hollywood celebrities are no different. They hate being treated as entertainers when they see themselves as social engineers. But having mounted the greatest mobilization of celebrity against a candidate in American history, our celebrities discovered the pathetic truth that most Americans treat them as nothing more than actors.

We turn to our celebrities when we want to escape reality, not when we want to master it. We may be eager to see their films, but we are quick to yawn at their political opinions.

Sure, Americans love listening to music and watching movies. They are even silly enough to follow the intricate details of the broken lives of our celebrities in the tabloids. But as far as taking these guys seriously and listening to them about the direction of the country? Give me a break. Most Americans decided that if the Hollywood crowd can’t even stay married, sober, or out of rehab, it would be wise not to trust them about what to do in Iraq.

There can be no question that Americans have a frivolous side. We watch way too much television, much of it asinine and empty, and husbands and wives sadly run to a lot of movies on Saturday nights rather than having a conversation over a drink. But for all that, we take our serious matters seriously, and we know that our celebrities are anything but serious.

No doubt every shrink in Beverly Hills will be booked for months. Not because Bush won – although that alone is sinking a lot our celebrities into deep depression. No, they will seek counseling because of the significant deflation they have experienced – a coming down to earth – in which they have discovered not only they aren’t gods, but for most Americans, they’re barely human. We follow their grotesque antics much as we would strange aliens from another planet.

The only Americans who don’t seem to see it this way are the Democrats who heartily embraced the endorsement of Hollywood, with John Kerry going so far as to say, after the disgusting performance of Whoopi Goldberg at Radio City Music Hall, that Hollywood represents the “best of American values.”

Many Democrats believe they lost the morality voters – who accounted for one-fifth of the electorate – over the wedge issues of gay marriage and abortion. I disagree. What 80 percent of the morality voters who voted against John Kerry and the Democrats actually voted against was their close alignment with Hollywood. The Democrats endorsed and embraced a culture which most parents find destructive and sickening.

Here are two proofs that it was the Democratic alignment with Hollywood rather than gay marriage that did the Democrats in. The first comes from the fact that Pete Coors, the beer magnate – who hails from a staunchly conservative and Republican family – lost in Colorado, a strongly Republican state. The morality-voters, who now dominate the Republican Party, saw Coors, who airs some of the most sexually explicit and exploitative commercials on television, as a phony and a hypocrite. So even though he was opposed to gay marriage and abortion, the voters rejected him because of his fixation with scantily-clad twins. We don’t need to watch football with our 10-year-old sons and see soft porn on television during the commercial break.

The second proof comes from the fact that more than two-thirds of married-with-children women voted for Bush – even though women are traditionally one of the strongest Democratic constituencies. Why did they come out for Bush? Because their most valuable possession is their children, and parents are frankly tired of putting their kids in front of a television and not being able to trust what they watch. They are shocked that they need to install special spy software to track what sites their kids visit on the Internet. They don’t want to see their daughters coming home from high school in a thong, and they are disgusted that when they send their kids to college, one of the first things they learn is how to do drugs.

But not only have the Democrats not distanced themselves from Hollywood, they have made it their core constituency, before whom they grovel and supplicate. Who can forget the sickening spectacle of Joel Lieberman, during the Gore campaign of 2000, repenting before the moguls of Hollywood for his public criticism of the filth they churn out? Here was a moral man being forced to compromise his values in order to save the Democrats’ Hollywood money base.

In the end, they got the money, but lost the country – not to mention their own souls – in true Faustian tradition.

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