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Bush Praises TV for Enlisting Cartoon Heroes in War on Drugs : President's visit: He brings his anti-drug message to Southland entertainment executives and schoolchildren.

March 03, 1990|JAMES GERSTENZANG and CATHLEEN DECKER | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

President Bush--acknowledging the historic moment that is bringing together, for the first time, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles--Friday praised the efforts of the television industry to bring about a change in America's attitudes toward drug abuse.

In a speech that was interrupted briefly when two protesters shouted out complaints that the Bush Administration is not doing enough about AIDS, the President said, "The days when popular culture glorified and glamorized drug use are fading fast."

Bush's anti-drug talk included a discourse on the merits of an anti-drug TV show, "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue," scheduled for broadcast April 21 and aimed at the massive audience of youngsters who watch such celluloid stars as ALF, the Chipmunks and Garfield each week.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences at the Century Plaza, Bush said: "Twenty million kids. Impressionable. Just asking to be entertained. And let me tell you something: Those 20 million kids in front of their TVs on any Saturday morning are the same target audience for every schoolyard drug pusher, five days a week.

"Never before in cartoon history have Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck worked with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Muppets, the Smurfs and all the other stars of the cartoon world," he added, offering praise for Roy Disney, the executive producer and vice chairman of the board of directors of the Walt Disney Co., "for keeping all those egos in line."

The theme of drug abuse has been worked into Bush's message throughout his public appearances on a four-day visit to Southern California. At midday--before flying to Rancho Mirage for a summit meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu--Bush once again alluded to the entertainment world in a speech, telling thousands of schoolchildren at an anti-drug-abuse rally at the Santa Ana Bowl in Orange County:

"We'll win the war on drugs because you have what a longtime resident of Orange County, John Wayne, had--true grit."

Urging the youngsters to shun drugs, the President quoted the late screen star and said, " 'There's right, and there's wrong. You gotta do one or the other. You do the one, and you're living. You do the other, and you may be walking around, but you're as dead as a beaver hat.' "

In his early morning speech, Bush told the gathering of television producers, directors, writers and performers that "drugs and success simply do not mix."

"The truth is, drugs don't care who you are, how famous you are or how much you earn. Drugs are deadly for everybody," Bush said.

The President, whose anti-drug plan focuses heavily on law enforcement efforts but also includes funding for education programs, referred to an incident early Thursday when about 900 pounds of cocaine was seized by Orange County sheriff's investigators in the Anaheim area.

Interdiction of drugs is an important element in the anti-drug equation, Bush told some of Hollywood's leading executives, but he added that "if we want to win this war, big busts won't be enough."

In the effort to drive down the demand for drugs, Bush said, each of them has "a unique ability to inform, and to change attitudes, and to catalyze public action in our fight against drug abuse."

Bush's speech was interrupted when the first of two protesters stood up and shouted, "Why don't you ever talk about AIDS? Why don't you lead the country on AIDS?"

As the audience began to boo the interruption, the man continued: "We need treatments now. It's not a laughing matter, Mr. Bush." And to the television industry audience, he said, "Are you people helping? Let's hear something about that, George."

As he was hustled out by security guards, a second man took up his protest, standing up and calling out a similar message until he too was led out.

After pausing in his text, Bush said, "We have increased federal help to an all-time high on AIDS." (The Bush Administration budget for AIDS this year is $1.6 billion.)

The protesters identified themselves as Mark Kostopoulos, 35, of Echo Park and John Fall, a 27-year-old social worker from the Silver Lake area. Taken away in handcuffs, they were questioned by police but were not arrested.

Both said they are members of the activist group ACT UP, which frequently protests Administration policy on AIDS. But they said they took the action as individuals.

Hollywood audience reacts favorably to Bush's speech. F1

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