I am constantly amazed by Penn & Teller. They break every Vegas headliner rule. One of the most important traditions in Vegas entertainment is to avoid divisive political issues. I doubt Criss Angel, for all his cartoon edginess, would ever voice an opinion on something as controversial as abortion. Yeah, I am serious. Headliners stay clear of controversy. Two examples from this century. George Carlin fired by MGM Grand for being in his words to me “too dark.” And, Linda Ronstadt booted from Aladdin for expressing admiration from the stage at her concert for Michael Moore.
One more example: Terry Fator at the Mirage pulled a joke about President Obama shortly after his show opened last year. The joke was innocuous; yet, Fator told me no joke was worth making any member of his audience uncomfortable.
So, what is Penn doing on Larry King agreeing with former Richard Nixon lackey Ben Stein about the controversial new health care law? In fact, why is a magician being consulted on health care at all? Again, I doubt Criss Angel would have been invited.
George Clooney gets to talk about issues on television because he is really famous and people like to look at him. Penn is slightly less pleasing to the eyes, but has proven informed and interesting enough over the years to speak to the times as what used to be called a public intellectual. And, it makes total sense that the great thinker from Vegas is a graduate of clown college.