Self-Interest Can Get Complex
The directors of the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission nearly passed stones in November when the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS) announced it wanted to end the voluntary ban on TV ads for hard liquor.

But U.S. Senator John McCain, who will take the reins of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, has been oddly noncommittal on the subject. Could that be because his wife, Cindy Hensley McCain, is heir to what is commonly called "the Hensley liquor fortune," a.k.a. the giant Phoenix beer distributorship Hensley and Co.?

Senator McCain's 1995 financial disclosure report shows that his wife, Cindy, and his children are the owners of more than $1 million in Hensley & Co. stock. His children also are the owners of between $50,000 and $100,000 in Anheuser-Busch stock, according to the report. Some $500,000 to $1 million in Anheuser-Busch convertible debentures belong to the wife and kids, as well.

The Snowy Haired Senator tells Mediaweek that a Commerce subcommittee will hold hearings on liquor ads. Mediaweek reports the senator's take this way: "McCain has not taken a stance on the matter yet. 'I think there's so much complexity to the issue that I'd like to give [the subcommittee] a chance to review it, and see the results of a hearing,' McCain says."

Complexity, indeed. All things being equal, beer interests would like to keep competing liquor ads off the airwaves. On the other hand, beer interests also fear that discussion of the evils of alcohol advertising could lead to a ban on liquor and beer advertising on TV.

McCain has a multifaceted conflict of interest on this matter. He should ship it to another committee, relax and have a brew.

Just Another Joe Show
Sheriff Joke Arpaio apparently isn't getting enough cheap publicity to slake his insatiable attention jones. He wants his own television show on the City of Phoenix's Channel 11.

One City Hall wag tells The Flash he first heard of The Crime Avenger's lust for prime time during KTAR-AM's "celebrity" production of A Christmas Carol (during which Sheriff Joke read the obscure role of the Ghost of Megalomania).

"Sheriff Joke was going around, whining to anyone who would listen, saying that if the mayor had a show on Channel 11, he should have a show on Channel 11," the source says.

Asked about Sheriff Joke's dream of TV stardom, city of Phoenix flack Mark Hughes says, "The only thing I know is that Thelda Williams called me a month ago and said they'd like to have a show. Our policy is that we do run material from other branches of government, but they have to produce it themselves. I haven't heard back from them."

Thelda, the former city councilwoman and mayoral candidate who was throttled at the ballot box by Mayor Skip Rimsza, has signed on as Sheriff Joke's "substance abuse coordinator," a job whose No. 1 responsibility, of course, involves scoring media fixes for The Laughable One.

The Theld-meister denied the sheriff's TV show would be called Mad About Me.
"That's been turned over to Lisa Allen to handle," Thelda says of Sheriff Joke's TV project. (The Flash called Allen and hung up in horror as soon as she answered.)

Thelda, inexplicably defensive, continues, "He's eligible to do that. Any government official is eligible to put a show on there."

Yes, Thelda, and every male in Arizona is eligible to take his shirt off in public. But that doesn't make it a good idea.

Special coded message to Sheriff Joke's Protest Posse: Okay, you can now get out your crayons and begin cyphering spiteful letters to the editor and to City Hall to complain about the terrible injustices The Flash has perpetrated against America's "Stupidest Sheriff." *

Play Charlie for Me
Some are born Keatings. Some, like Dr. Gary Hall, marry into Keatingness. And some have Keatingness thrust upon them.

Actor James Cromwell is of the third category--he plays Charles Keating in the film The People vs. Larry Flynt. According to Cromwell (best known as Farmer Hoggett in Babe and Stretch Cunningham on All in the Family), he didn't land the part through any great thespic ability.

"I had auditioned for [director] Milos Forman before," Cromwell told The Flash recently, "for the part of the Emperor in Amadeus. But it went to a friend of mine, Jeffrey Jones. When I reminded Milos about this, he said, 'Oh, Jeffrey looks exactly like the pictures of that Emperor.' And then he looked close at me and said, 'And you look exactly like Charles Keating.'"

The Flash hasn't seen The People vs. Larry Flynt yet, but sincerely hopes that the screenplay depicts the real-life episode where Keating calls U.S. Senator John McCain "a wimp." And if they ever make a movie about Governor J. Fife Symington III, former Dennis the Menace Jay North is a shoo-in. Or would it be Edgar Winter?

This Chick's Never Had Green Hair
Last time The Flash checked, a county court commissioner was considering what to do about the nagging case of Donald Ellison, a seriously mentally ill Vietnam veteran who died tragically last summer. At a hearing before Commissioner Robert Colosi last month, an Arizona Veterans Service Commission official prattled on about how her agency never lost track of Donald and never ripped him off, statements that run directly counter to the reality reflected in public records. (For example, the AVSC didn't know the vet had died until five days after he'd collapsed of heat stroke.)

Based on the one-sided testimony presented at the hearing, it seemed certain Colosi would rule in the agency's favor. But the commissioner apparently has had second thoughts.

Colosi has asked Donald's family members and other "interested parties" to submit their concerns about his case. Colosi also relieved Donald's court-appointed attorney, Consuelo Leon, of further duties in this matter. (Leon failed to do her homework before last month's hearing, allowing an AVSC official to trample on the truth with little interruption.) And finally, last week Donald's sister Mary Howard met with attorney Chick Arnold--the Arnold of the landmark Arizona class-action lawsuit known as Arnold v. Sarn.

Friends and foes alike respect the Phoenix barrister because he fights as hard for his clients as the Chicago Bulls' Dennis Rodman fights for rebounds. Like Rodman, Arnold also knows what he's doing. He says he'll lend a hand because it's the right thing to do: "Donald's story was haunting and troubling. We'll see what we can do."

Channel 12's Knight Stalking
Through its Internet cousin,, New Times recently made available to other news organizations a remarkable recording: audio portions of the infamous video "target tape" made by three Viper Militia defendants a year before the militia was formed.

KPNX-TV Channel 12 made the recording its lead story during its 10 p.m. broadcast January 3. And Channel 12 got the story very, very wrong.

In fact, the news station researched and wrote the story so poorly that anchor Kent Dana accused militia defendant Chuck Knight of acts he did not commit.

The nature of the target tape and how New Times obtained audio from it was clearly explained in New Times' January 2 cover story ("Sticking By His Guns"), which included an interview with Knight, the first given by a Viper defendant.

During that interview, Knight played the target tape for New Times reporter Tony Ortega. Knight had obtained it from government prosecutors as discovery in his upcoming trial.

The videotape was made by Viper defendants Dean Pleasant and Dave and Ellen Belliveau in 1994, more than a year before the Viper Militia was formed. Pleasant narrates as the three surveil numerous Phoenix buildings, suggesting ways to destroy them. Indictments filed against the militia members make it clear the government considers the target tape its strongest evidence that the Vipers planned to blow up government offices and businesses. When prosecutors attempted to show it at detention hearings last July, defense attorneys leaped to their feet and objected. The videotape still has not been shown to the public.

Knight says he had never seen the target tape until he watched it with Ortega. His exclamations of disbelief were recorded along with the sound of Pleasant's narration on Ortega's cassette recorder.

Just before playing New Times' audio clips for a television audience, however, Channel 12's Kent Dana told viewers that they would hear Pleasant explaining how to destroy buildings to defendant Chuck Knight, as if Knight had been along to make the videotape with Pleasant in 1994.

The Flash called Channel 12's computer specialist Wes Williams to ask how the station could make such a mistake, especially in a story which was completely explained in New Times.

"We didn't read the story," he said.

* As proclaimed by Bill Maher on the April 9, 1996, Politically Incorrect.

Feed The Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, [email protected]

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