The freedom to have an opinion on politics, economics, religion or social issues is a right afforded to all humans, no matter the environment within which one lives. We Americans are fortunate to reside in a system that promotes and encourages these freedoms, despite efforts to stifle and censor them.

However, there is nothing more preposterous than to see some celebrity spouting off on some issue, especially when the attempt is nothing more than a press release from their PR firm designed to give the appearance of activist involvement. A hilarious example is a recent "news release" from the nation's most astute political commentator, Barbra Streisand.

Concerned environmentalist that she is, Babs recently weighed in on the continuing power crisis in her adopted home state, California. Though she doesn't place blame for the current situation in the Golden State, she does provide a series of steps all Californians should take to resolve the energy crunch. Naturally, they focus on conservation. So, here are Senator...er...Ms. Streisand's seven suggestions to save California's energy:

  • Turn up your thermostat to 78 degrees when you're home, and 85 degrees when you're out.
  • Avoid running your appliances during the peak hours of 4pm to 6pm.
  • Use warm or cold water to wash clothes and try to line dry as much as possible.
  • Only run your dishwasher when it is fully loaded and air-dry your dishes instead of using the dry cycle.
  • Turn off appliances and lights when they are not in use.
  • Turn off the television when you leave the room and turn off your computer at the power strip when you're not using it.
  • Replace your air conditioner filters, seal and caulk doors and windows that might leak, and buy energy-efficient products like Energy Star Light Bulbs.
(Source: http://www.barbrastreisand.com/news_energyconservation.html)

While there is significant merit in all these suggestions, one has to wonder about the legitimacy of Barbra's image as someone who actually follows these suggestions. One might find it a bit of a stretch to see Babs running around the mansion, hired help in tow, making sure the appliances are not running from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Or shutting off those lights, and that darn computer. I'm also hoping one of the tabloids (whose comments about her really get Barbra's dander up) might fly the helicopter over the residence soon, as I'd be interested in seeing that clothesline in the back yard with Babs' unmentionables flapping in the breeze.

One might also find some amusement in the image of Mr. Streisand, James Brolin, stomping about the compound in his flannel shirt and overalls (well, maybe not flannel, with the temperature at 78 degrees and all), replacing those filters, caulking those doors and changing those light bulbs. One supposes he does all this in-between his regular gig as the pitchman for Aamco Transmissions ("Double A, honk honk, M C O").

Apparently, Barbra and Jim don't have a home in Florida. Setting the thermostat at "85 degrees while you're out" only makes the air conditioner have to work that much harder to lower the temperature to something comfortable. And, if I wanted my house to be 78 degrees while I'm home, all I'd have to do is open the doors and windows, since that's the normal evening temperature around here from April through September. I'm assuming that the Brolin's don't have the level of humidity in SoCal that we have here in Florida.

In addition to her environmental interests, Streisand's web site also includes sections where she attempts to set the recond straight on what the tabloids and magazines say about her. For example, she vehemently denies using a chat session with fans (42,000 hits) to recommend her followers blindly vote for nothing but Democrats in the last election:

"Of the nearly 362 Democrats running for the House of Representatives, the 34 Democrats running for the Senate, and the 38 Democrats running for gubernatorial seats (a total of 434 candidates), I endorsed fewer than 200. If I were (deciding on) blind faith, wouldn't I have endorsed them all?"

(Source: http://www.barbra.streisand.com/news_ta13.html)

Errr...why not? When one considers the difficulty in gleaning the truth about one's own local candidates, it's amazing to think that she could research 200 people and their 200 opponents (most of whom likely serve far from Beverly Hills) and provide opinions on every one.

But, isn't that the kind of concern for their fellow man that we count on from our modern celebrities?

The problem here is not that Ms. Streisand has any political or social opinions. The problem is attempting to ask the world to believe that she's some Everyman, running around the house in her apron, hair pinned up under a scarf, lowering the temperature and hanging the clothes on the line. I just hope she doesn't slip and fall into the pool while carrying out the laundry basket.

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