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Nevada's Most Wanted

What YOU Can Do to Help Bill Bennett Stop Gambling

by Dan Savage

Anyone who saw a daily newspaper or caught a cable news program this past weekend knows that William J. Bennett--virtuecrat, drug warrior, scold--was exposed by Newsweek and the Washington Monthly last Friday as a high-stakes gambler. The news that Bennett blew a small fortune in Las Vegas--he is believed to have lost upwards of eight million dollars--was almost too good to be true. Michael Kinsley, writing for Slate, best captured the reaction of American sinners from Maine to California: "Maybe there is a God after all."

Bennett defended himself against charges of hypocrisy by pointing out that he never hurt anyone else, that he didn't break the law, and that he views gambling like he views alcohol. "If you can't handle it," Bennett said, "don't do it." The trouble with all three of Bennett's defenses is that they can be used to defend all the sins, pleasures, and vices that Bennett made millions condemning, from open relationships (don't do it if you can't handle it) to smoking pot (doesn't hurt anyone else, don't do it if you can't handle it) to getting blowjobs from interns in the Oval Office (the trifecta).

On Saturday morning Mrs. Bill Bennett weighed in, telling USA Today that her husband's gambling days were behind him. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Bill Bennett had indeed decided to give up gambling for good. "Moral Crusader Says He Will Gamble No More," read the headline. "This is not an example I wish to set," Bennett said in a statement. "Therefore, my gambling days are over." It was a lovely little news cycle, wasn't it?

When I heard that Bennett was giving up gambling, I had two reactions. The first was uncharitable: What a fucking pussy! American adulterers, pot smokers, and homos put up with a lot more punishment from the likes of Bill Bennett than Bennett himself suffered last weekend. And have we tossed away our bongs, boyfriends, and babes on the side? NO! And why not? Because we're not a bunch of motherfucking pussies--unlike Bill Bennett, who can dish it out but can't take it.

My second reaction was more charitable: What can I do to help Bennett? For his own credibility and financial solvency, and to appease the wife, Bennett has to kick his gambling problem. That won't be easy. When I looked up "gambling addiction" on Google, the first three links were for online casinos--which probably isn't much help to people who want to give up, as opposed to indulge, their gambling addictions. Websites for gamblers who want to kick the habit devote a lot of bandwidth to warnings about relapse. Since Bennett's career couldn't withstand a relapse scandal, I decided to do what I could to prevent him from having one. And you can help, too.

If you see Bill Bennett in a casino, or about to enter a casino, or, God forbid, sitting in front of a slot machine, tell Bill Bennett to go home to the wife and stop blowing his kids' inheritance. (What good is repealing the estate tax, Bill, if you don't leave an estate behind for your children to inherit?) But what if you can't recognize Bill Bennett? After all, outside of Washington, D.C., most people don't know what Bill Bennett looks like. And you can't help him if you can't spot him, can you? That's why The Stranger is making available, for a limited time only, a very special deck of playing cards.

You've seen Bill Bennett on the Sunday-morning talk shows. You've gaped in horror as his books climbed the bestseller lists. Now you can own the one true collector's item from Operation Busting Bill Bennett. Nevada's Most Wanted is a regulation deck of playing cards. Modeled on the Iraq's Most Wanted playing cards distributed by the U.S. military, the Nevada's Most Wanted cards will help Americans spot Bill Bennett. If you see Bennett entering a casino or, God forbid, pumping $500 slugs into a high-stakes slot machine, all you have to do is call the number on the back of your Nevada's Most Wanted playing cards and let Mrs. Bennett know that Bill's having a relapse.

Each deck of Bill Bennett playing cards is just $10 (plus shipping and handling), and you can order your very own deck by visiting this page. No fooling. We're really having the cards printed--but only a limited number of Nevada's Most Wanted decks will be printed, so buy your deck today. Sinners are standing by, ready to take your order.


Illustration by Kathryn Rathke


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