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July 17, 2012

Young people today make poor showing as U.S. citizens

Daily Star

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The other night, "The O'Reilly Factor" had a feature called "Watters' World." Jesse Watters is a young producer that Bill O'Reilly sends to such events as the Academy Awards, NYC car shows, Zuccotti Park during the Occupy protest, spring break in Florida, etc. He interviews people on the street about political issues, historical events and current news stories.

This is similar to Jay Leno's feature called "Jay-Walking." One night, Jay asked this attractive young lady, "Which two cities in the Bible were destroyed because of their sins and decadence?" She hemmed and hawed and finally replied, "I know one was Atlanta." Without missing a beat, Jay replied: "That's right! What was the second one?" She answered, "Chicago, I think?"

During a news cycle involving nuclear proliferation, Jay asked a young man, "What is the significance of plutonium?" He replied, "Isn't he Mickey Mouse's dog?" It is great fun, but at the same time, alarming.

This year, Jesse Watters was sent to the Academy Awards, and as he stands there holding a Fox News microphone and interviews the few celebrities who will acknowledge him, he is met with looks of disgust and disdain.

How can this be? Isn't he in Hollywood? Isn't this the cultural capital of Liberal America? Aren't these people the most tolerant and most understanding of differing views? To my horror, America's sweetheart and the babe on my top 10 list, Sandra Bullock, was the most impolite and totally ignored him. I guess her beauty is only skin deep.

On the Fourth of July, Jesse interviewed some young folks at Jones Beach in Nassau County. Jones Beach is a rather upscale area, and one would assume that most of these people would be in college or recent graduates.

One young lady was in a small white bikini. ... Ya know, you'd think she would have bought a bigger one that fits better. They must make them. Anyway, she was asked, "From which country did we win our independence?" Looking as confused as a stripper without a dancing pole, she said, "I don't know."

Watters said, "Russia?"

"No," she said.

"England?" Watters asked.

"No," she said.

"Spain?" he offered.

"I'm not sure. Could be," she said.

Another young lady with a small blue bikini was asked, "In what year did we win our independence?"

She answered quickly, "1964." Obviously, the preponderance of ill-fitting bikinis is causing blood loss to the brain. A young man was asked to name his favorite Founding Father. He replied, "Abraham Lincoln." So much for the bikini theory.

A third young lady, who I thought held more potential because her bikini fit properly, was only slightly better.

When asked to name her favorite Founding Father, she said, "Thomas Jefferson." Jesse asked, "Why is that?" to which she responded, "Because he signed it." Watters asked, "Signed what?" to which she said, "You know."

In the segment that followed, O'Reilly asked Watters how he picked the people for the interview. "It's all about the bikinis, Bill," was his response. What a chauvinistic clod, but he has good taste in bikinis. When asked what percent were able to answer the questions correctly, Watters said, "Only 45 percent. More than half had no idea what I was talking about."

Later in "The O'Reilly Factor," a journalist named Charles Krauthammer was mentioned. He is a respected writer and commentator much like George Will was decades ago. O'Reilly's guest commented that it's sad that each of the bikini votes count as much as Krauthammer's.

Some would say that we are in the midst of the "dumbing down of America." Baloney. We have arrived. It has already happened. How can any lamebrain go through school to age 19 or 20 and not know any of our Founding Fathers, which country we defeated to gain our freedom, or the year of our independence? It's really only funny in the sense that the greatest comedy lies at the edge of tragedy.

However, I'm sure these same contaminants of the gene pool know how to put on a condom, are culturally sensitive, can recite the latest rock video verbatim, are up to speed on the TomKat divorce saga and are fully aware of the latest celebrity wardrobe malfunction.

This is hard to accept. Can anyone imagine the dollars that are spent on education locally, at the state and federal level and privately through scholarships and in private schools? It must exceed a trillion dollars annually! Do you really think that any problem can be solved, if you throw enough money at it?

One question: Could it be what we teach, rather than how we teach? Make no mistake; America has more than its share of ingenious people, but clearly public education, for whatever reason, is receiving a failing grade.

Note: The 15th annual 500 Yard Ponderosa Shoot is at noon Sunday, July 29, at 699 County Highway 39 in Worcester. Call 432-8180 or 435-3358. All welcome.

Chuck Pinkey is the owner of River Valley New Holland Inc. in Otego. He can be reached at The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board.