Ellen DeGeneres

At a time when soldiers are being killed daily in Iraq; China and Turkey are turning up the their anti-American rage; and the dollar is bottoming out against even the most meager world currencies, Ellen DeGeneres’s dog story seemed a bit much last week.
Ellen adopted a puppy, couldn’t keep it, and gave it to loving friends with a child. Later, the agency took back the dog since it does not allow second-hand pet placements. The videotape of her ensuing crying jag got a lot of attention.
In my lobbying days, I recall waiting hours as hearings on major health issues were held up by endless debates on the piping plover. America’s partiality to small animals is nothing new.
The nation’s sympathy is testament to DeGeneres’s popularity, charisma, talent and survival skills. When she “came out” on national television in 1997, a lesbian telling the world of her lifestyle was pretty shocking.
The comedian floundered professionally for years. She took up with actress Anne Heche who claimed to be a lesbian in those days. (Heche later married the father of her child and claims to speak with God and extra-terrestrials, so questions about her sexual orientation and grasp of rationality float unanswered for those who care to waste sleepless nights on such matters.)
Continued stardom, however, eluded Ellen until she came to daytime television and skyrocketed to vast popularity. Women, as well as men, like her natural style, which is relaxed and real. America’s heart has been won over by her wit, humility, girl-next door friendliness, impromptu dancing, and genuine enthusiasms for her guests.
Taking a page from Oprah, the queen of daytime talk television, Ellen has started to hand out fabulous gifts to viewers and audience members.
During the dog fiasco, another of Ellen’s seldom-mentioned strengths came into play. She represents humanity, with vulnerabilities we all share. She doesn’t remind us daily of her struggles, though as a woman in the male-dominated world of broadcasting and a lesbian in the straight-jacketed universe, she doubtless has stories to tell.
Ellen doesn’t fill her shows with references to discrimination suffered by the gay community. She isn’t “in your face” about her personal choices. She seems to have no axes to grind.
The dog story was just that: a tale of common sense, kids, pets, responsibility and imperfections we could all share.
If the dog had belonged to Oprah, and the secondary adoption questioned, racism, poverty, the host’s claim of past sexual abuse, the “spiritual connection,” and even why Barack Obama’s leadership would cause such injustices to disappear might have become part of the story.
Viewers watching Ellen do not see a lesbian who struggled professionally on the way to fame — they see a human being. That is because she doesn’t remind us every five minutes about her particular life challenges.
We like that, since we all have something to deal with that sometimes makes life harder than it should be.
Related: Skipping gaily down the aisle, Just for him or her, Home for dinner, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , Barack Obama, Celebrity News, Entertainment,  More more >
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