Oliver Stone shocked many when his movie "World Trade Center" was released in 2006. It was a masterpiece, a meditation on two firemen trapped in a darkened tomb of broken concrete, twisted metal and shattered glass. They had rushed headlong into the collapsing skyscrapers, only to be buried alive. So many of their colleagues died, but in the end these heroes were located by searchers and rescued.
Stone maintained it wasn't a political movie, and for the most part, it wasn't. It was a personal story. But this movie was also a gift to our country, a reminder not to forget this dark day's victims and its heroes. It was only political in that it was patriotic. It reminded us all across our country of how our fellow Americans in Washington, New York and Pennsylvania were mercilessly murdered. It came closest to politics (or patriotism) when the firemen were found by a man who vowed to join the War on Terror.
Sadly, that was but a brief hiccup in Stone's career, a befuddling, out-of-character career move. In most of his movies, Oliver Stone is clearly not a fan of America, both her leaders and her policies. Think "Born on the Fourth of July," "Platoon," "JFK," "Nixon" and "W."
Now he is promoting a new documentary called "South of the Border," which debuted June 25. Its philosophy is illustrated by the poster: The American eagle's talon is pierced by a large thorn coming out of a blood-red South America. It's no overstatement to say Stone deeply adores the trend of Yanqui-bashing leftists coming to power, from Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to Evo Morales in Bolivia to Lula da Silva in Brazil.
In a recent interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," Stone vouched for Chavez, endorsing him as "absolutely" a "good person." When asked about Chavez's censorship of opposition press, he claimed there was none. "There's no pattern of censorship in this country. I've been there," proclaimed this geopolitical expert. "So, you can see it. You can go down to South America, spend three days, and you'll see the most vibrant opposition in the world."
Stone somehow missed the Venezuelan penal code from 2005, which states: "Anyone who offends with his words or in writing or in any other way disrespects the President of the Republic or whomever is fulfilling his duties will be punished with prison of 6 to 30 months if the offense is serious and half of that if it is light." Oh, and that sanction applies to those who "disrespect" the president or his flunkies in private, too.