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Byline: Barbara Howar

MY mother always told me never to behave in any manner I wouldn't care to read about in the paper. That advice, largely ignored, seems downright quaint near the end of the 20th century in America, where every 15 minutes of fame requires equal amounts of shame. Now private is just another word for boring and applies only to those whose sex secrets aren't worth exposing or those clever enough not to be caught with their testosterone hanging out.

The hazards of runaway hormones, something else my mother futilely warned against, were recently described in a New York Times article: ``While emotion is surely part of the makeup of a champion, you can hurt your team, disappoint a multitude and even damage, to a degree, your chances at a historic record as a result of allowing emotions to get out of control.''

Now, to whom did the writer refer? Was it the St. Louis Cardinals' Mark McGwire, whose annual $8.3 million salary and the glory of beating Roger Maris' 1961 home-run record were greatly jeopardized by a jar of store-bought testosterone enhancers left in his open locker for all to see? Or to another tireless hitter, Bill Clinton, whose fouls in the Oval Office with a White House intern have struck him out of the presidential Hall of Fame?

Of course, columnist Ira Berkow meant McGwire, but the cleats also fit Clinton. A president with too much testosterone and a first baseman with too little, and each blames the media for invading privacy and tarnishing images.

The difference is that McGwire didn't lie to his fans and friends or dispatch colleagues and family to deny, deny, deny. Nobody elected him to anything and nobody's owed anything but a good performance.

Clinton's bad luck is that we're still a nation that holds our leaders to a higher standard than our athletes.

But when all the dust and testosterone settle, regardless of the batting or the Dow Jones average, there will be no return to privacy for either ``Mighty Casey.''

Or for the rest of us who clearly are hooked on knowing ever more tidbits about any celebrity's rise and demise.

Once on constant dirt alert, and cable-linked to television's all-seeing eye, we'll devour the famous like candy bars, tossing the wrappers over a shoulder as we go. Then it'll be open season on all and their dogs, especially the likes of the Texas couple who had the audacity to withhold their names and statistics when they recently spent $2 million to clone their collie Missy.

On such matters will hinge the fortunes of an entire media industry, not to mention those untold numbers of come-lately heat seekers, identified as former prosecutors on Geraldo, Larry, Chris, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, etc. Instead of entering commentator rehabilitation, they and others like them will clutter TV screens and blast eardrums far into the coming century. And we'll be glued to every word and innuendo.

But a fitting punishment for our voyeuristic excesses is about to befall us in the form of Rep. Dan Burton, one of Bill Clinton's holiest and harshest critics.

According to the Indiana Republican's announcement this week, ``Vanity Fair'' is soon to publish a left-wing inspired hatchet job on the ultraconservative congressman and his heretofore uninteresting love life. Guess the crusty hypocrite's mother never mentioned the bit about behavior and the newspapers.

When this major-doze material inevitably translates to the tube, there surely will be slow-motion footage showing where and with whom Burton stands on testosterone, maybe showing guy talk with Bob Dole about his heralded use of Viagra. The possibilities are endless. Anything goes now. Which is bearable, so long as Missy is the only aforementioned to get cloned.
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Article Details
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 4, 1998

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