If Charlton Heston had his way, there might be an 11th commandment--"Thou shalt do your best and keep your promises"--based on advice his father gave him.
It was the same advice Heston gave during a speech called "The Spirit of Excellence" that he delivered to a packed crowd Tuesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
In the hourlong talk, the 69-year-old actor bemoaned the loss of values and personal responsibility in the country. The United States has become a place "dominated by lust, avarice and greed," Heston said, and Americans have "confused the pursuit of happiness with the pursuit of pleasure."
Along the way, people have discarded values like truth, justice and right in favor of the view that "If it feels good, go for it, at least as long as it's politically correct," Heston said.
He argued that people needed to look to the lives of great men and strive to emulate them. Quoting liberally from historical figures as diverse as Moses, Abraham Lincoln and the Roman Emperor Hadrian, Heston patched together a mosaic of the modern conservative.
In recent years Heston--a longtime friend and supporter of Ronald Reagan--has become a spokesman for conservative causes and the Republican Party. He has campaigned for Gov. Pete Wilson, appeared on the "Rush Limbaugh Show" and filmed television commercials against gun control.
His views seemed to go over well with the Simi Valley audience.
"He's eloquent and knowledgeable," said Mark Grenda, a 41-year-old security guard from Moorpark, who wanted to know if Heston was going to run for the U.S. Senate. "I'm conservative. I don't agree with him 100%, but it's pretty close. He'd make a great candidate."
Others in the audience said they were simply impressed by his presence.
"It's thrilling to see a real Hollywood personality," said Darl Golden, 70, a retired electrical engineer from Moorpark. "Heston's a patriot and a great speaker. We love him for his views and for his acting."
After the speech, about 60 people joined Heston and his wife of 50 years, Lydia, for a $40-a-plate luncheon. Library spokeswoman Stefanie Salata said the interest in the speech "exceeded our expectations." Proceeds from the event and the luncheon will help fund the library.