To sane people from other countries, it must seem that some Americans, specifically social conservatives, have gone completely mental. Right-wingers and family values vultures, newly drunk with power, are reaching a level of hypocritical hysteria that makes the Janet Jackson breast brouhaha seem like a tempest in a C cup. The same people who see the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich are suddenly seeing threatening gay images everywhere. The hits just keep on coming, as absurd as Monty Python but not as entertaining. Surely you’ve read of this madness. Buster, the animated rabbit from PBS’s Postcards From Buster, was taken to task by the new secretary of Education for having the nerve to show a legally united Vermont family headed by lesbians who were as normal as a family with two June Cleavers and no Ward can get. Even the sight of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval gays are potentially too much to bear for American children, and the secretary, apparently unconcerned with such issues as education, took a cue from boss George W. and made a preemptive strike, threatening federal funding for Buster’s show. Having historically shown no respect for the privacy of the bedroom, now the far right isattacking the privacy of one’s pineapple. In his latest attempt to get laughed off the world stage, James Dobson of Focus on the Family decreed that SpongeBob SquarePants is sending out subliminal gay messages to unsuspecting toddlers. (If Dobson wants to go after a gay sponge, why not David Gest?) The Family Research Council has on its payroll, I’m not kidding, a “homosexuality detection expert,” whose duties include informing us that words like “tolerance” and “diversity” are part of a “coded language that is regularly used by the homosexual community” as well as alerting families to potential gays in the midst. What a dream job--Gaydar to Go. I picture a Miss Gulch type roaming the aisles of churches and schools, armed with a crooked stick that violently shakes whenever a teenage closet case is near. Maybe Dick Cheney should have hired her years ago. These cases, while hilariously aggravating, are nonetheless predictable. Every so often homophobia and paranoia makes people go TILT. What wasn’t as predictable was the over-the-top level of selective, naked hypocrisy on display. Alan Keyes--one of the most sanctimonious politicians in history, whose entire presidential campaign was based on “moral values”--was revealed to have a gay daughter, and responded by using his moral values to kick her out of the house and withhold her college tuition. What do his fellow conservatives have to say? Nothing--other than that it’s a private matter. Rather than act as (desperately needed) positive role models for parents of gays nationwide, Dick and Lynne Cheney, vocal on all other issues known to man, are completely silent about their gay daughter--her sexuality being “private.” The wildest disconnect between what they say and what they do is occurring with the “Jeff Gannon” scandal. In this case, a fake reporter who used an alias, on behalf of a fake news organization that was nothing but a Republican propaganda outlet, had a White House press clearance endowed by the Secret Service and used it to regularly ask the president softball questions. Big surprise, right? But here’s the real surprise: He was also allegedly a $200-an-hour (or $1,200-a-weekend) hustler, complete with X-rated Web photos revealing just how endowed he is. (I downloaded them all.) What do his fellow conservatives have to say? Nothing--as “Jeff” himself said in a CNN interview, “mistakes” in his past are “of a very personal and private nature.” There’s nothing out of the ordinary about a biased reporter. There’s not even anything strange about a fake reporter spreading White House propaganda. But now conservatives such as Ann Coulter, who knows a propaganda-spreading fake-reporter whore when she sees one, are rushing to the defense of “Jeff,” saying that hypocritical liberals are going after him simply because he’s gay. Say what? No, they’re going after him because he was apparently a gay male prostitute (who described himself as a “verbal top” into domination scenes for $200)...with a White House press clearance...who has written antigay articles. I’m all for verbal tops, but not that verbal. “Jeff” has launched a new, G-rated Web site (www.jeffgannon.com) defending himself and his “rock-solid” values while refusing to comment on his “personal life.” Man, it’s not your personal life, it’s your professional life. You’re a hustler spread-eagle online with a woody for any kid to see after they watch SpongeBob. Have conservatives suddenly taken “don’t ask, don’t tell” to an absurd extreme? Are they strong on terrorists but soft on gay hookers? In that case, excuse me while I check the pullout section of my local gay mag for them to recruit. Though if the White House is condoning gay hookers, it’s a step in the right erection at least. You would expect James Dobson, Alan Keyes, or any of the other moral watchdogs to go ballistic over this guy. There has to be a logical reason why a call boy with online money shots and a White House clearance gets a fraction of the attention as SpongeBob or Buster the rabbit, but one can’t expect logic with these guys. Maybe “Jeff” is on call to William Bennett, who not only was revealed as a gambling addict but also allegedly hired a (female, albeit rather muscular) Vegas dominatrix. Hey, “Jeff” is a ex-marine--maybe he has a boyfriend on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Whatever the case, homosexuality is, evidently, a “private” concern if you’re a conservative Republican in lockstep with the Bush Brigade who dutifully stays in the closet, but not if you’re a Democrat, a lesbian from Vermont, an out gay American, a soldier, or a sponge. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a whore; it just matters whose whore you are.