Brent Bozell

Francis was serious and obnoxious enough to send letters to liberal House members like Henry Waxman (his local representative) and Barney Frank (the chairman of the Financial Services Committee). Naturally, Forbes reported, "Representatives for Waxman and Frank weren't picking up their phones." Francis also sees hope in President-elect Obama: "I bet he's a 'Girls Gone Wild' fan."

Flynt and Francis argue that their business has been hit hard by the economic downturn. They claim DVD sales and rentals have decreased by 22 percent in the past year as viewers turn to the Internet for their thrills.

But not all of that mouse-clicking turns a profit. In a new report on AdultVest, the first hedge fund for financing X-rated outcasts, the Atlantic Monthly estimated the U.S. porn industry generated roughly $12 billion in 2007 (about the same overall sales figures as the video-game industry in 2006). But online content doesn't deliver the financial returns it used to, now that popular smut sites such as RedTube and PornHub give it away.

There's something deliciously amusing about the exploitative Larry Flynts of the world being undercut by the free-porn carnival barkers.

In their swaggering confidence in the neverending human desire for their "goods," the T&A titans like to imply they're as American as apple pie. "The popularity of adult entertainment in America has grown steadily for the past half century," Francis boasts in his preening press release. "Its emergence into the mainstream of popular culture suggests that the U.S. government should actively support the adult industry's survival and growth, just as it feels the need to support any other industry cherished by the American people."

Pornographers are surely born audacious, but this press release underlines the strange evolution of the First Amendment. The Founding Fathers meant for it to build and protect a robust atmosphere for political speech. Now some in Congress want to curtail political speech with "campaign reform" and the "Fairness Doctrine," while others will have to suffer the lobbying efforts of insufferable pornographers demanding the American taxpayer put a few billion of those greenbacks in their sweaty hands, too.

If Congress wanted to subsidize edgy sex pictures, there's always that tried and true National Endowment for the Arts. It's cheaper, too.

Brent Bozell

Founder and President of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell runs the largest media watchdog organization in America.
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