Admit it, you used to love Ben Stein. He was the “Bueller, Bueller, Bueller” guy:
In retrospect, it’s sort of the least funny part of that movie now that we know that Ben Stein wasn’t playing a character, he was just playing himself. But still, everyone knows, “Anyone… Anyone?”
And then he went on to host “Win Ben Stein’s Money”, a show that asked genuinely tough questions and was co-hosted by Jimmy Kimmel (who dated Sarah Silverman, so by the effects of transference, Ben Stein should be at least kind of cool.)
Unrelated Sarah Silverman clip:
Forget the fact that he’s a staunch Republican who wrote speeches for Richard Nixon. He was fiscally conservative, and that’s a legitimate point of view even if you do not particularly share it (and as a communist, I don’t). His politics never seemed all that paramount to his public figure (in my lifetime), so I could enjoy him for his droll pop culture appearances.
So what happened? Why is that now everytime I see Ben Stein in those ads with Shaq I want to punch the screen? When did he cross over from being a mildly amusing public figure to an all out frontrunner for The Biggest Douche in The Universe Award?
Well, first off, there is this:
No, I don’t expect you to watch it all. Just know that this is Stein’s ‘documentary,’ Expelled, arguing in support of Intelligence Design (never has a descriptor been so ironic). In this movie, Ben Stein and the filmmakers intentionally misrepresent the case for ID by implying that wackjob ‘scientists’ who have fallen out of favor for their categorically wrong views are really just martyrs for truth. There is nothing wrong with a documentary having a point of view, all of them do. There is something wrong, however, with abusing facts and lying to participants in your film so that real scientists (i.e. PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins) don’t know what they are being interviewed for. A discussion of all the movie’s faults have been legion and so there’s nothing more for me to offer*, other than to say, “Benny, you’re a fine douche.”
As much as Stein’s ID stance annoys the living shit out of me, I think his douche-baggyness is taken to an astronomical level when you consider who he is a spokesperson for: FreeScore.com.
This is one of those annoying credit report sites (like the one with the atrocious singing moron commericals), where they promise you free credit scores from 3 of the top credit reporting agencies in the country. Of course, if you sign up for them, you won’t actually get any important information. You get a score, but not the report behind the score which is all that matters, and for that you have to pay an extra $30.
That’s all well and fine (plenty of businesses work that way: offer you something free to entice you in for the real purchase), unless you are an informed consumer who knows that every American citizen, by law, is allowed free access to their credit reports once a year. These companies are charging you to get information that you are open to get for free. They call themselves FreeCreditReport.com and similar names so that uninformed (or simply confused) consumers think they are getting something for, you know, FREE!
It’s a scam, and Ben Stein, so-called “Economist and Financial Writer” (not anymore) knows it. In a day and age where every politician, celebrity and hand puppet is speaking on behalf of “Real Americans who are losing their jobs and in financial straits,” Stein’s alignment with such a blatant rip-off puts him on the top of the Douche Bag list. So, um, hey, congrats!
Sorry John Edwards, you can’t win every year.
*For a better understanding of the true scientific response to ID and the real motivations of the ID movement, watch this documentary, the story of the Dover, Pennsylvania trial to keep ID out of schools. Spoiler Alert! ID is hokum!