Pop Rocks: John Travolta, Humanitarian

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The tragedy of the earthquake in Haiti has, as expected, brought out both the best and worst of humanity. As an example of the former, we've seen the nations of the world send supplies and relief workers to help the stricken Caribbean nation. As for the latter, well, the comments of extraordinary scumbags like Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh pretty much speak for themselves.

But then, it's hard to blame Robertson. This is a guy whose capacity for honest empathy was completely wiped out by decades of belief in a merciless supreme being. He's so close to shuffling off his own moral coil it's rendered him incapable of seeing anything but the avenging Angel of Death in every natural disaster, economic downturn, or hangnail. Rush, of course, occupies that truly rarefied stratum of delusional hypocrisy reserved for those who not only lie about their own illegal/immoral activities, but who can still keep a straight face when calling for the punishment of others who behave identically.

And then there's John Travolta. As you may or may not have heard, the once and future Tony Manero flew his Boeing 707 into Port-au-Prince last Monday to deliver sox tons of MREs, doctors, and -- oh yeah -- several Scientology "volunteer ministers" to offer aid to the stricken.

This gesture of absolute selflessness by the Wild Hogs actor and Operating Thetan 5, amazingly, elicited some negative reactions:

There is a backlog of at least 800 aircraft awaiting permission to land at the overloaded airport, which can handle just 130 flights daily, prompting recriminations from some aid agencies

Some loser aid agencies, you mean. It's not the fault of the Church of Scientology's that it just happens to attract the best and brightest of America's celebrity population. Hey, Doctors Without Borders; sorry if you can't compete with the incandescent star power of Danny Masterson and Catherine Bell. Maybe you should set up some outreach centers in West Hollywood instead of spending all your money providing care to people who don't even own TVs.

One US doctor, who declined to be named, said it was more a credibility thing. "I didn't know touching could heal gangrene."

Obviously somebody hasn't been keeping up with the latest [CoS approved] medical literature. One look at the accompanying picture ought to set him straight.

The fact that the minister is wearing rubber gloves during the "assist" is not, as some cynics have said, to avoid touching the unwashed brown people. No, it's actually because the healing power of the Scientologist's touch is so potent that -- without a tactile barrier of some kind -- the recipient would be so thoroughly healed they'd become nigh-invincible superbeings. And I think we all remember what happened the last time we created a bunch of those...

I know we in the world of celebrity "journalism" are quick to view any apparently philanthropic act by a public figure with a healthy amount of suspicion. It's our way of living with ourselves after willingly regurgitating everything we're told by publicists and movie studios. But in Travolta's case, let us for once recognize his action for what it is: a charitable gesture from a man who sincerely wants to offer assistance to a beleaguered country, and not a desperate publicity ploy by an actor in an upcoming movie who hasn't had a legitimate hit since 1997.

From Paris with Love opens February 5.

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