"No Impact Man," ABC's Comic Hero

Webster's tells us that an extremist is one who is "at the end or outermost point; farthest away; most remote." In politics, extremism is "the extreme right or the extreme left." Both sides have their respective ideological embarrassments, but with one striking difference: if you're a left-wing environmental extremist you are treated as sensible, even praiseworthy, by ABC News.

Meet Colin Beavan, a man who touts himself as "No Impact Man," a walking Manhattan publicity stunt with a book deal and a documentary filmmaker to publicize his year of monastic self-denial. He sounds like a comic-book superhero, but the more you hear of his story, the more it's simply comic. He describes himself whimsically on his own No Impact Man blog as a "guilty liberal" and a "tree-hugging lunatic," and that was good enough for ABC's "Good Morning America," which on May 10 devoted eight and a half minutes to exploring Beavan's World.

The show's weather man, Sam Champion, explained that Beavan and his wife and daughter have a routine that might seem "a little extreme," including no morning paper, no morning television, no food or drink that isn't grown or made within 250 miles, no transportation (even mass transit), even elevators. "And, oh yeah, no toilet paper." You read that correctly. It's all for love of the planet, "a year-long experiment seeing if they can live their lives without creating any waste, and therefore having no negative impact on the environment."

This is not just "a little" extreme. This is just plain stupid. Nauseatingly stupid, too.

ABC did ask the liberal lunatic - I can agree with him on his self-description - if his friends think he's insane. But they should have asked him how many of those friends invite the Beavans over for dinner given the family's hygiene. Of course, that would detract from the message, so instead they honored his fraction of self-sacrifice. After cheering "good for you," Diane Sawyer stared into his soul and proclaimed: "What you were saying about the way it concentrates your mind to be free of concern about a lot of the things in your life. It really makes sense to me."

Sawyer tried to steer around the question that most viewers at home had, if their breakfast wasn't already ruined. How do these Al Gore acolytes forego the toilet paper? "I'm not going to tell them. I'm going to let them go online and search this out for themselves," Sawyer proclaimed. "Let me just say it's the Bedouin solution. If you don't know what that is, you're on your own out there."

But all this "makes sense" to Sawyer anyway. So are we to deduce that she has also rejected the use of TP? Suddenly the one-sheet policy suggestion by Sheryl Crow sounds positively extravagant.

Sawyer underlined how Beavan will next turn off the electricity, now that the New York winter is safely over. ABC didn't explain how supposedly non-electric Beavan will be keeping up on his No Impact Man blogging, but there seem to be routine little violations of this self-imposed deprivation. In the real world, we call that "cheating." For example, they still use the washing machines in the basement of their apartment building.

Like a big chunk of television news, the Beavan scoop was utterly stolen from a newspaper, in this case The New York Times, which celebrated Beavan on March 22. Reporter Penelope Green handled the T.P. question by suggesting readers "think of bowls of water and lots of air drying."

A nine-minute morning spot is a virtual eternity on television, but syrupy stories like these can never stretch long enough to consider any conservative critics - because a conservative would probably dissolve in the giggles. What would happen if all of America were to heed the call and devote itself to scootering to work and climbing hundreds of flights of stairs while eschewing the use of Charmin? Most of America would be late for work, would arrive exhausted. And smell like Beduoin tribesmen.

Ladies and gentlemen, I've said it before and ABC offers the proof: The American left is firmly out of rational ideas. It's been reduced to intellectual gibberish. But this won't stop the Al Gores of the world from trying to implement these nonsensical things or the ABCs of television from trying to promote them.