By Craig Tomashoff
July 31, 1995 12:00 PM

LET ME SEE IF I HAVE THIS STRAIGHT. Bob Dole makes the lack of wholesome values in the entertainment industry a major campaign issue. Is this the same guy who unofficially announced his presidential candidacy on Late Night with David Letterman, which features skits like “Can a Guy in a Bear Suit Get into a Strip Club?”

Actually, it isn’t fair to pick on Dole. For years, politicians have had a love-hate relationship with popular entertainment, attacking shows while seldom missing the chance to appear on television in a non-news context—from Richard Nixon’s indignant “Sock it to me” zinger on Laugh-In to Bill Clinton’s saxophone solo on the Arsenio Hall Show. These prime-time forays let pols demonstrate that they are fun-loving folks who can do more than just yammer on about foreign policy. Plus, it’s free publicity. That’s why their attacks on the media seem, at best, disingenuous. The philosophy seems to be: Television is bad—until you need it.

With the 1996 presidential campaign pumping up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see plenty of politicians looking for the right outlets. As a citizen, I have some suggestions. President Clinton wants to appear tough on crime; he could do a ride-along on Cops. Dole seems worried about being tagged a “professional politician”; a guest shot as a refrigerator repairman on Home Improvement would cure that pronto. Pat Buchanan comes across as harsh and conservative; a cameo as Murphy Brown’s, ex-boyfriend, and a cardigan sweater, could do wonders. Ross Perot, of course, would make the perfect cranky neighbor on any sitcom (It’s just that simple).

And while we’re at it, who needs primaries? The GOP could settle their whole presidential nomination mess with A Very, Very Special Family Feud.