The news release from Rep. James P. Moran Jr.'s Capitol Hill office announced that he would be appearing on MSNBC that evening to discuss his latest pet project: banishing advertisements for sexual-performance drugs such as Viagra to late-night TV.
It turned out Moran (D-Va.) was bumped off "The Abrams Report" that night because of a "major development" in the Bill Cosby case. But he has made it onto "Good Morning America" and the House floor to take up the issue in recent days.
Moran hoped to amend the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act to classify TV ads for drugs such as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis as "indecent" and ban them from television except between 10 p.m. and
6 a.m. Since that move failed, his staff said, he hopes to introduce his own legislation restricting the advertisements in a few weeks.
Moran -- who is the father of four -- said he was inspired to take up the crusade because of the ubiquitous nature of the ads, which he said he finds embarrassing, and also because, he said, he's gotten complaints about them from constituents.
Moran's meticulous care with constituents is often cited as one reason he continues to be reelected by healthy margins, in spite of the frequent controversies that surround him.
No issue, it seems, is too big or too small. In addition to his efforts on the environment and gun control are always smaller issues, such as this campaign-season favorite: H.R. 5133. It renames the Reston post office for Martha V. Pennino, a longtime member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors who was known as "Mother Fairfax." Pennino died in September.
So when Moran heard from folks on the drug ad issue, he sprang into action.
"It bothers me, the saturation of these ads during viewing times when you're normally sitting around with the kids. I don't have any problem advertising these product after 10, the way we do with . . . hard liquor," Moran said.
At her house in Springfield, Mary Bryant, a retired Alexandria city government employee, saw Moran on "Good Morning America" and was inspired to send an e-mail of support. She'd never written a member of Congress before but was tiring of the ads that always seemed to be on television when she sits down for dinner or a basketball game with her grandchildren, ages 9 to 15.
"I never felt as strongly as anything to sit down and actually e-mail, but it's bothered me for a long time," Bryant said. "I saw him on one of the news programs and thought: 'Thank heaven somebody feels like I do.' . . . I'm not a prude at all, but with the children here, I don't feel comfortable" seeing the ads on TV.
Of particular concern, Bryant said, were the graphic descriptions of the medications' side effects at the end of the advertisements. As Moran put it in one news release, "Parents with young children should not have to explain to them what a four-hour erection is while they watch the afternoon cartoons."
A spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical company that markets Levitra, said the Food and Drug Administration required it to list such side effects.
"We're sensitive to the concerns Congressman Moran is expressing," said Amanda Foley, GlaxoSmithKline's spokeswoman. "We're committed to presenting [erectile dysfunction] in a tasteful way that is appropriate to a range of audiences. We'll continue to do that as we plan future ad campaigns."
She had no specific comment on Moran's legislation.