Walters thinks the racism of sentencing discrepancy is an urban myth; is against drug treatment; advocates stiffer penalties against drug users; and despite untold billions of dollars spent achieving nothing, wholeheartedly supports the military wing of the drug war.
Joe Arpaio, Sheriff of Phoenix's Maricopa County Jail
Arpaio runs a jail for petty criminals with sentences of less than a year, many of whom have not yet gone to trial. Nevertheless, he boasts about heading one of the most severe penal institutions in the U.S. He started the country's first female chain gang, giving women the choice of burying bodies in Phoenix's pauper cemetery or having 23 hours of lockdown.
The Feds sued Arpaio for using excessive force in 1997. In 1998, a U.S. Department of Justice consultant condemned the use of restraint chairs, pepper spray, alleged hog-tying and the use of "unprovoked" and "unjustified" force. But Sheriff Joe keeps on escalating. Last June, the Arizona Republic reported that he was putting dogs in the jail's few air-conditioned cells. As he told the paper, "It's too hot for the dogs over in the tents with the inmates." Arpaio spends 66 cents a day on food for each inmate, twice that for a dog. He is a constant propagandist, averaging a speech a day, and many consider him the most popular person in Arizona.
Robert Torricelli, New Jersey Senator
Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli demonstrates that moral bankruptcy and political corruption ignore party lines. Dubbed "The Torch" by his Washington colleagues, Torricelli has a reputation as a political hustler. He raised a record $103.5-million as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. His bully rep among his colleagues was underscored when, in 1999, he exploded at his New Jersey Senate colleague Frank Lautenberg, "You're a fucking piece of shit. And I'm going to cut your balls off."
Hammered by a series of New York Times stories, and with Justice Department investigators breathing down his neck, the pugnacious Senator maintains his innocence against mounting corruption charges. He allegedly received 10 custom-made Italian suits and an $8,100 Rolex watch, among other items, from a Chinese businessman who pled guilty to giving him $53,700 in illegal campaign contributions.
Rudy Giuliani, New York Mayor
Rudy Giuliani is the master scapegoater. His list of targets includes homeless people, graffiti artists, panhandlers and even guys who wash your windows at stoplights. But when Giuliani caught a whiff of pot after a political event, his wrath went into overdrive. "Bust those pot smokers!" he screamed, and arrests in New York went through the roof. By the end of 2000, 59,945 people had been arrested for pot, up 39 percent from 1999. In 1992, as DRCNet.org has reported, only 720 pot smokers were arrested in New York City. New York State decriminalized pot in the mid-1970s, a fact that Giuliani has ignored.
Giuliani's stop-and-frisk racial profiling approach has stirred up heat, with the Justice Department and the State Attorney General documenting abuse. His Operation Condor, which swept through neighborhoods and locked up thousands of people, mostly of color, deepened the wedge between citizens and the police.
Giuliani's attacks on arts institutions for exhibits he finds offensive are infamous, including his attempts to deny museums government funds. Though the courts threw out these efforts, he recently formed an advisory committee to develop decency standards — a move that talk show host Jay Leno immediately labeled as fascist.
Eminem, Rap Star
It's hip to cut Eminem a lot of First Amendment slack — to suggest his lyrics of raping his mother and hating faggots are symbolic. If you don't get it, many say, you must not be down with the music.
Eminem may be a talented wordsmith, but the scary part of his success is that he needs the controversy around his misogyny and his homophobia to sell his music. For Eminem, faggot is the "lowest degrading thing you can say to a man ... to me it doesn't necessarily mean gay people ... to me just means taking away your manhood." Since the word faggot pops up in 13 of the 18 tracks of his award-wining Marshall Mathers CD, the word and its meaning are at the centerpiece of his artistic expression.
That millions are flocking to this message is scary enough. But the guy can be scary in real life too. Recently he was sentenced to two years' probation for carrying a concealed weapon, stemming from a case where he allegedly piston-whipped a man he saw kissing his estranged wife.
Roger Clemens, New York Yankees Pitcher