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DAVID RUPRECHT: HOLLYWOOD REPUBLICANS, LIBERTARIANS COMING OUT OF THE CLOSET

by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.  [December 30, 2002]

 


[HollywoodInvestigator.com]  Hollywood is not exclusively Democratic -- and Republicans and Libertarians are coming out of the closet!

So said David Ruprecht, host of PAX-TV's Supermarket Sweep, at a dinner hosted by the California Libertarian Party's Region 63 -- an event held at Bakers Square Restaurant in Pasadena, on the evening of December 11, 2002.

Ruprecht -- who recently taped the 1,000th episode of the 13 year's running Supermarket Sweep -- was invited to address Region 63 because of his work on Libertarian Party presidential candidate Harry Browne's 2000 campaign video, and because of his current involvement with the American Liberty Foundation.

Describing himself as a "baby libertarian," Ruprecht and his wife Patti (also in attendance) had been "lifelong Democrats" until the early 1990s, when, Ruprecht said, they realized that "the Democrats don't speak to us anymore."  Over time, he discovered the Libertarian Party by listening to radio's Larry Elder -- and was eager to learn more when his commercial agent hesitantly approached him about hosting a "political infomercial" for Harry Browne.  A thrilled Ruprecht shocked the agent by stating that he'd been thinking of joining the LP.

The agent replied: "Everybody in Hollywood is either Democratic or in the closet."

About the day he taped Browne's infomercial, Ruprecht gushes: "It was so cool!  I could pepper him with questions [between takes].  He's very open.  He's the nicest guy on the planet.  He's really smart!"

Because of his TV fame, Ruprecht was asked to read the LP platform at their 2000 convention, for the benefit of the C-SPAN audience.  "So I read the party platform, and I took my Democratic Party card -- which I'd had forever -- lifted it up, and I joined the LP right there [on national TV]."

 

* Hollywood Politics

 

About the time Ruprecht joined the LP, his wife became a Republican.  "I don't think she's registered yet, but she votes Republican.  It's so odd in Hollywood, when she'll come into a rehearsal, like, after Election Day in 2000.  And she'll say, 'Yeah, I voted for Bush.'  And they step back like she's got a ..."

Interjecting, Patti reminds him that, as she is a choreographer and director, she has jobs to offer -- so people don't step back.

"Yeah," Ruprecht concedes.  "But they look at you...  It's very odd."

Still, he believes Democrats are losing their monopoly on Hollywood, and mentions radio talk show host Al Rantel's promotion of the newly founded Hollywood Republicans.  "They're coming out of the closet," says Ruprecht, adding that he'd like to start a similar group for showbiz libertarians.

"When I'm talking to my friends and I say I'm a Libertarian, maybe 10% will go: 'Oh yeah, I don't like the isolationism, I don't like the open borders' -- but 90% have no idea [what the LP stands for].  And when I start telling them, maybe they have a problem with the gun issue, but they'll go: 'Oh yeah, the government shouldn't be in your bedroom.  The government shouldn't be in your womb.  The government shouldn't be in your bank account as much as it is.'"

The LP's pro-gun rights position is a turn off to many showbiz folk, but Ruprecht doesn't see the gun issue as an insurmountable obstacle toward attracting more Hollywood members.  "Not every Democrat believes in affirmative action.  Not every Republican believes in [banning] abortion.  I don't believe in every part of the LP.  I think that's why Larry [Elder] keeps his libertarianism as a 'small l'."

Interjecting, Sandor Woren stated that Elder's primary reason for not joining the LP was "because he objects to the foreign policy of the LP, or the lack thereof." Woren then quoted Elder as personally telling him: "I'm violently against this pacifist, antiwar trend we have in this party."

Woren was the California LP's 2002 candidate for state assembly district #43.

Ruprecht admitted that after 9/11, Browne "was almost saying, it was kind of our fault, because we're meddling over there." But despite their differing interpretations of libertarianism, Ruprecht noted that Elder and Browne remain friends. "Both of them still cordial, and speak highly of each other."

Demonstrating that libertarianism has appeal in Hollywood, Ruprecht lists as out- of-the-closet libertarians: Kurt Russell, Penn and Teller, Clint Eastwood, Drew Carey, John Larroquette, Howard Stern (who briefly sought the LP ticket for NY guv), Tommy Chong ("Although he may be a one-issue type person."), P.J. O'Rourke, Russell Means, [producer] Aaron Russo, and possibly Bill Maher ("I used to enjoy [Politically Incorrect] at the beginning, but then it got so Left...").

Not all libertarians places a high value on attracting celebrities. One Region 63 attendee marveled that actors comment on political matters they know nothing about -- and that people take them seriously.

"Actors are not necessarily that smart," Ruprecht conceded.  "It doesn't mean you're stupid, but you don't have to be smart to be a good actor or a good dancer.  That people give [celebrities] any credence or any weight to what they have to say just because they're -- it just boggles my mind why anybody would listen to what I have to say."

 

 

Why does the right to own a gun trouble many otherwise libertarian celebrities? Explains Ruprecht:  "It's an idealistic feeling that America would be a better country without guns. What doesn't cross over the synapse is that it ain't gonna happen. They're idealists, thinking we are gonna get rid of the guns -- and not that only the bad guys are gonna have guns. And [thinking] that we'll have a terrific country 'like England has' -- which is getting worse and worse."

After other attendees noted that many pro-gun control celebs, such as Steven Spielberg and Rosie O'Donnell, have guns or armed bodyguards, Ruprecht, reminding everyone that he'd been a lifelong Democrat, said: "That's the Democratic thing. They feel they know better how to live your life than you do.

"I joined the Rotary Club in Sierra Madre over a year ago. It's a natural outcropping of my libertarianism, because we don't need the government [to provide a safety net]. There are enough churches and synagogues and rotaries to pick up the slack.

"If the Rotary Club gets $1000 to work on an orphanage in Tijuana, $1500 goes down there, because we would chip in too. And you got Tijuana Rotarians down there telling us what they need and how to do it, and where to get the paint cheap. It's an international organization. So our $1500 probably goes $2000. But if the government got $1000 to work on an orphanage in Tijuana, by the time it filtered through the bureaucracy, it would be $200. And it would be misspent, because they wouldn't know what the hell they were doing.

In addition to his hosting duties, Ruprecht is an actor, having appeared on the Drew Carey Show in the role of a lunatic who thinks he's Larry King. "But we never got to talk about libertarianism," he says of Carey on the set. "He was too busy."

 

* American Liberty Foundation
 

 

Last August, Ruprecht joined the Board of Directors of the American Liberty Foundation, which, from his description, is the educational division of the LP. "I'm not sure of the exact connection.  They're separate, but it is a wing. The point [of the ALF] is to get the message out. Too much of [libertarianism] is in books, or in esoteric or academic situations, and the American public is not getting the message. The goal [of the ALF] would be that every American doesn't go through a day without hearing the libertarian message some little bit, whether it's a radio ad, a TV ad, a newspaper ad, somebody talking about it on talk show.

"Even my Democratic left-wing friends, when I tell them what libertarianism is all about, they go: 'Well that makes sense.'"

To date, the ALF has produced three TV ads on the gun issue, which ran on CNN and Fox News.  "The idea is that the Foundation is Procter & Gamble, and we have different lines of products. The first line of products that we brought out were the armed & secure lines. The next line may be the war on drugs, or social security, or the income tax.

"The libertarian idea is great, but people aren't getting it. People are not hearing it. They think of us as some fringe lunatic group."

Several Region 63 attendees noted that in 2000 many voters preferred Browne, but voted for Bush because they were "terrified of Al Gore" and "it was literally a survival issue" -- but that now Americans have reasons to be terrified of Bush.

"Not a dime's worth of difference," said Ruprecht. "That's Harry's line." [George Wallace is usually credited as having coined it. -- ed.]

 

* America's First Foreign War
 

 

In addition to his hosting and acting, Ruprecht is a writer. Hallmark is currently producing a script he co-wrote, as a miniseries. "It's called 'To The Shores Of Tripoli,'" says Ruprecht. "It's about America's first battle off its own shores, against Arabs and Barbary pirates." In 1804.

Ruprecht recently discussed his script over lunch with Browne. "I love listening to Harry talk. I feel like Aristotle at Plato's knees, because he's so smart, and he's so well read." The two men compared notes on the American government's history of manipulating events to push the nation into war. "The one I know more about is Roosevelt and Pearl Harbor not being as much of a surprise as we have always been led to believe that it was. Roosevelt did things to get us into World War 2, because he needed to get us into World War 2.

"Harry said that Lincoln did things to get us into the Civil War, because he needed to get us into the Civil War. World War 1 was the same way.

"[Harry] wanted to find out what Jefferson had done in this Tripolitan war, because it was our first war off our own shores -- and it's Jefferson who was the original libertarian. So I had done a lot of studying on Jefferson."

"To The Shores Of Tripoli" begins shooting in February 2003, in South Africa. "Tom Berenger was attached to it from the get-go," Ruprecht says. "This was an eight-year-old script."

Ruprecht closed by announcing that Browne wished for the members of Region 63 to know that he has a new book coming out in January 2004, in trade paperback. He also plans to update and re-release his older books from the 1970s and 1980s.

Copyright 2002 by HollywoodInvestigator.com

 

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