What are the vital needs right now in the wake of Katrina and Rita? Housing? Debt relief? A rebuilt levee system? Well, apparently, according to the White House, one vital need is a heart-tugging TV appearance by the First Lady on a top-rated network show:
Laura Bush to appear on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"
...Laura Bush will travel to storm-damaged Biloxi, Miss., to film a spot on the feel-good, wish-granting hit "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Mrs. Bush sought to be on the program because she shares the "same principles" that the producers hold, her press secretary said.
...the show will broadcast from an underserved shelter near Biloxi, where a convoy of trucks stocked with everything from mattresses to pants will arrive, courtesy of Sears, one of the show's sponsors.
It's not clear exactly what Mrs. Bush will do, but Tom Forman, executive producer and creator, said he is hoping that she'll just pitch in and help unload.
"I think we say, 'Mrs. Bush, the stuff is over here, the people are over there, could you grab the other end of that mattress?' " ...
Please note that this was the White House's idea:
The show has been likened to a modern-day "Queen for a Day." But it could be difficult to discern whose fortunes will be lifted higher -- the displaced victims of two hurricanes or the White House, which was widely perceived as slow to understand their pain.
Which is probably why the Bush team contacted the show for a booking instead of the other way around. The series was ranked among the top 15 shows last season with an average 15.8 million viewers. Airing Sunday nights, it is considered one of the strongest family hours on television.
"We got a call from the White House saying, 'What are you doing and if you need help, just let us know,' " Forman said. "We said here's what we're doing and if the first lady would like to join us, we'd love to have her."
Back to the future...
And notice that the show is going to focus on victims from Mississippi, not Louisiana. Think that's an accident -- at a time when some GOP-friendly media outlets, such as The Washington Times, are hinting that Mississippi governor Haley Barbour should be working on his presidential inauguartion speech for 2009 ("His can-do attitude has drawn praise from, among others, former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, who compared Mr. Barbour’s post-Katrina leadership to that of former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani after the September 11 attacks")?
UPDATE: Daniel Kreiss notes that Extreme Makeover is widely praised by Christians ("for my money, the absolute best Christian ministry show on TV today is ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition") -- even though its stories are very often "about the failure of our society to help" people prior to their appearance on the show.