Celebs Step Up, Politics Slaps 'Em Down

ByABC News
October 29, 2006, 6:06 PM

Oct. 29, 2006 — -- Celebrities have been involved in politics for decades -- but in recent years, it seems that when celebrities get into the ring, they get pretty beat up.

This morning, actor Michael J. Fox reacted to Rush Limbaugh's accusation he exaggerated the symptoms of his Parkinson's disease in a Democratic campaign ad.

"I don't want to react personally to these attacks," Fox told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "It's pointless, it's silly. It's like getting in a fight with a bully. You're not going to change his mind. You're just probably going to get a nose bleed. So why bother? But make no mistake, it hurts."

On his radio show, "bully" Limbaugh said Fox's "moving all around and shaking" was "purely an act."

Fox was stunned to hear Limbaugh's accusation.

"When I heard that response, I was like, "What, are you kidding me?," he said.

Fox may have been caught off guard, because while celebrities have been pushing political causes for decades, they are usually treated with more respect than the politicians they support.

For years, Hollywood has given a hand to Democrats. Humphrey Bogart stumped for FDR, Harry Belafonte for JFK, and Warren Beatty for George McGovern.

Many Republicans -- even Ronald Reagan, who knew both worlds -- stayed relatively quiet about celebrity liberalism.

But Mark Halperin, ABC's political director and author of "The Way to Win," said the gloves have now come off.

"Conservatives under George W. Bush," Halperin said, "have basically said to Hollywood liberals, 'We're calling you out. No more free ride. You come after us, we're coming after you."

Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines set off a storm of Republican outrage when she announced, right before the start of the Iraq war, that she was embarrassed "George W. Bush is from Texas", her home state.

The president later addressed her comment on NBC News.

"They shouldn't have their feelings hurt just because some people don't want to buy their records when they speak out," Bush said. "You know, freedom is a two-way street."

In a scene from the Dixie Chicks' new movie, "Shut Up and Sing," Maines reacts to the comment by referring to the president with a curse word.