Why rehab is the new black | AspenTimes.com
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Why rehab is the new black

I’ve never been particularly adept at, nor do I especially enjoy owning up to mistakes of any kind, which is why I’m pleased to report a rapidly developing trend may be just the perfect solution for me: rehab.There’s nothing worse than acknowledging wrongdoing and then having to suffer through any amount of face time with those to whom you’ve just admitted fault. Fortunately though, celebrities, politicians and religious leaders are already way ahead of the curve and teaching by example.The current rehab vogue started taking shape last summer when Mel Gibson unleashed a barrage of anti-Semitic comments at a Malibu sheriff’s deputy while being arrested for drunk driving. The actor and son of an admitted Holocaust denier (see The New York Times Magazine, March 9, 2003) subsequently sought treatment for alcohol abuse and repeatedly said he planned on meeting, in his own time, with Jewish community leaders to understand from whence his underlying hatred stems. (Last I heard, those Jewish community leaders are still holding their collective breath waiting for the phone to ring.)Shortly before the midterm elections this past fall, dirty online messages between a congressional male page and now former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., were made public. The conservative Foley quickly claimed a substance abuse and mental illness defense (long live registered voters in Florida!) and ducked into rehab while Democrats soared to a majority in Congress.In November the rehab fad really starting picking up steam when Colorado’s own staunch anti-gay activist, the Rev. Ted Haggard, was found to have engaged in acts condemned in the Bible. Haggard underwent three weeks of counseling, and just this week, one of the ministers who oversaw the therapy pronounced Haggard “completely heterosexual.” (On a side note, the male prostitute with whom Haggard carried on for three years prior to his stint in rehab has expressed skepticism his ex-lover could have truly changed his stripes.)Also in November, three-time Emmy-award winning actor Michael Richards went on rage while performing at an L.A. comedy club, hurling the n-word at some hecklers in the audience. Richards, who has since incorrectly referred to himself as a Jew, submitted to psychiatric counseling and met with civil rights leaders to try to revive his career – oops – I mean, redeem his character.The reigning Miss USA nearly lost her sash in December when her hard-partying ways were exposed in the media. However, a 30-day stay in rehab followed by an intense mea culpa round on the national talk circuit seems to have put her back in the good graces of pageant officials. The same cannot be said for the recent former Miss Nevada, whose raunchy photos of yore surfaced not long ago, forcing her to relinquish her scepter and resort to picking up odd (presumably topless) jobs in Las Vegas.A Snickers advertisement that debuted during the Super Bowl last Sunday in which two auto mechanics accidentally kiss – and then declared immediately afterwards they must do manly penance – has been pulled off the air because of protests from human rights groups who cried the commercial was homophobic. No word if the ad agency that created the spot or the candy bar itself plans to seek counsel from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.So far that seems to have worked for still-employed “Grey’s Anatomy” actor Isaiah Washington, who dropped the other f-bomb when referring to a cast member who is gay. Washington was ostracized from the rest of the cast and the network after uttering the word a second time last month. Before checking himself into rehab for a week – at which time he took some anger management classes and had a psychological evaluation – he met with the president of GLADD to “reach out” to the gay and lesbian community. And in keeping with the hottest new part of the rehab craze, when he returned to work this week a spokesperson announced Washington would continue seeking help on an outpatient basis.On Tuesday, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced his intentions to seek counseling for alcohol abuse less than a week following the disclosure he bedded the wife of his former campaign manager. Like Lindsay Lohan, whose rehab presently allows her to report to a movie set every day – as well as eat lunch and shop with pals on the weekends and go clubbing ’til the wee hours – Newsom said the treatment he receives will not affect his professional duties. Hopefully, also like Lohan, it won’t affect his ability to rock out.Only time will tell when Paris Hilton might cash in her rehab chip. Gossip columnists everywhere smirked this week when a video tape surfaced of the professional heiress spewing hateful slurs against gay and African-American people. If history is any guide though, Paris might already be taking the first steps to finding a suitable rehab facility – through a spokesman, she expressed regret for her actions.I haven’t decided yet exactly what I’ll be attending rehab for, but it won’t matter just as long as I can save some valuable face when it’s most needed. (And by the way, I’m not talking about going to the James Frey kind of rehab where you’re made to scrub toilets. But unfortunately the Lindsay Lohan rehab – at $80,000 a month – is not on my short list, either.)Most likely I’ll choose my rehab based on the other people who might be there at the same time. Like choosing the ideal dinner party guests, I have some thoughts on with whom it might be the most fun to hide out and wait for the storm to die down. I bet Liza Minelli would be a hoot – what with all the show tunes she knows. And Russell Crowe must have some great “been there, done that” tales. When either Robert Downey Jr. or Kate Moss’ skanky boyfriend falls off the wagon again, let me know, because I bet either one would be a riot in group session and at Pictionary.And no rehab stay would be complete without President Bush, who you just know is a blast after he gets a few cocktails in him. After all, if “rehab” is the new “I’m sorry,” doctors everywhere must be working already on creating some sort of an extra special wellness center especially for him to attend when he leaves office in 2009. By the way – just a thought – he’s really going to need to stay way more than a week.E-mail questions or comments to meredithcarroll@hotmail.com


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