|Apparently, Tom DeLay isn't much of a Law & Order guy. |
The beleaguered House majority leader, who has been accused of ethics violations, is taking time out from battling political enemies to take aim at NBC and producers of Law & Order: Criminal Intent for, he says, taking his name in vain in Wednesday's season finale.
The Texas Republican, nicknamed "the Hammer," accused the Peacock crime drama of "a manipulation of my name" in a storyline about the slaying of two judges by right-wing nutjobs.
During the episode, a police officer stymied for leads jokes to his partner, "Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt."
The congressman wasn't one of the 14.5 million viewers who watched Wednesday's whodunit--he found out about the quip only through an aide's wife.
But DeLay was not amused and fired off a blistering letter to NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker.
"This manipulation of my name and trivialization of the sensitive issue of judicial security represents a reckless disregard for the suffering initiated by recent tragedies and a great disservice to public discourse," DeLay wrote.
"I can only assume last night's slur was in response to comments I have made in the past about the need for Congress to closely monitor the federal judiciary, as prescribed in our constitutional system of checks and balances," he continued.
NBC and Law & Order mastermind Dick Wolf defended the "gritty cop talk" in question, noting that it was "neither a political comment nor an accusation."
"The script line involved an exasperated detective bedeviled by a lack of clues, making a sarcastic comment about the futility of looking for a suspect when no specific description existed," NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said in a statement.
Reilly noted that L&O has long referenced real people and events in its ripped-from-the-headlines plots.
"It's not unusual for Law & Order to mention real names in its fictional stories," he added. "We're confident in our viewers' ability to distinguish between the two."
Wolf, meanwhile, did some barking of his own
"Every week, approximately 100 million people see an episode of the branded Law & Order series. Up until today, it was my impression that all of our viewers understood that these shows are works of fiction as is stated in each episode," he said. "But I do congratulate Congressman DeLay for switching the spotlight from his own problems to an episode of a TV show."
Wolf was getting in a dig at DeLay's burgeoning ethics problems stemming from his Texas-based political action committee and dealings with questionable lobbying practices.
The L&O quip specifically referenced DeLay's comments two months ago during the Terri Schiavo case when he slammed "activist judges" for failing to intervene and restore her feeding tube.
"The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior," DeLay said at the time.
The remark drew sharp rebukes from many of DeLay's colleagues, especially coming so soon after two unrelated incidents involving jurists: the murder of an Illinois judge's family members and the killing of a justice in Atlanta by an accused rapist.