Politicians Spanked by Virgin

By Al Kamen
Friday, March 14, 2008

Seems just about everyone has been seizing on New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's misfortune to score legislative points or make a buck.

RH Reality Check, an online abortion rights publication, has been pushing to drop language in an international AIDS-prevention bill that would require health organizations to sign a pledge condemning prostitution.

In an online message Tuesday, the group noted the irony of Spitzer's "visiting prostitutes while Congress is forcing" the organizations to sign the pledge.

British entrepreneur Richard Branson's mobile-phone company weighed in quickly after the scandal broke. It is using Spitzer in Canadian newspaper ads touting a warmer, more personal service.

A photo of Spitzer, Love Client No. 9, has a bubble that says "I'm tired of being treated like a number."

Well, not to worry, gov'ner. "At Virgin Mobile, you're more than just a number," the ad says. "When you call us we'll treat you like a person, not a client. Whether you're #9 or #900, you'll get hooked up with somebody who'll finally treat you just how you want to be treated."

A Virgin ad last week focused on lower rates and featured Hillary Clinton with this thought bubble: "I wish my bill wasn't so out of control." Switching to Virgin Mobile's "no-con contracts" the ad says, will let you "finally put your bill back in its place," and show you "how you can get your bill to behave."

A Barack Obama ad will be out shortly, said Virgin chief marketing officer Nathan Rosenberg. "There is a brilliant photo of him in his swimwear we are quite fond of," he said, and "we also think he is probably wondering if they will hear my 'call for change.' "

But no John McCain? The GOP candidate will be happy -- or maybe not -- to know that the company intends "to give him fair representation," Rosenberg said. But "all the action and craziness is on the Democratic side right now. . . . We haven't been inspired."

If You Close One Eye, It Almost Looks Like Progress

Looks as if the human rights bureau and the East Asia bureau at the State Department ironed out disagreements over how to deal with North Korea in this year's human rights report.

Loop Fans may remember that last week, we reproduced some of the back-and-forth at Foggy Bottom over the introduction to the report. The East Asia folks were hoping to get the human rights folks to "sacrifice a few adjectives" -- that is, to be a bit diplomatic in describing the horrific abuses by the lunatic in Pyongyang -- "for the cause" of negotiations aimed at coaxing North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

The item sparked a letter of concern from the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea -- run by Richard V. Allen, former Reagan national security adviser (and now a New Zealand vintner) and former congressman Stephen J. Solarz, urging that "the integrity of human rights reporting on North Korea not be sacrificed to policy considerations of any sort."

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