ADVENTURES IN PICKING...

ADVENTURES IN PICKING UP THE DAMN PHONE. George Will is scandalized today by page 38 of "the American Prospect, an impeccably progressive magazine," which carries "a full-page advertisement denouncing something responsible for �lies, deception, immorality, corruption, and widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses� and for having brought �great hardship and despair to people and communities throughout the world.�" That something? Coca-Cola. Dum dum dum!

For those interested in the allegations, KillerCoke.org can fill you in. Will, however, is struck by this example of "liberalism as condescension," a "philosophic repugnance toward markets, because consumer sovereignty results in the masses making messes." Or something. So far as I can tell, Killer Coke is worried about all the union organizers who keep getting murdered when they try to unionize foreign Coca-Cola plants, which isn't something I assume the average American consumer supports.

That aside, though, this seems like a bit of a stretch -- grabbing a random advertisement in a liberal magazine and using it as evidence of the movement's philosophy. Curious about the accuracy of this journalistic method, I picked up the (damn) phone and called the advertising department of Will's employer and publisher, The Washington Post, where I talked to a wonderfully friendly sales representative. I read her the Killer Coke ad and asked if they had any guidelines that would forbid it.

"Well," she said, "obviously all corporate advocacy ads have to be approved by our legal department and we are a family newspaper and want it to be acceptable for all ages, so nothing explicit or graphic. But as long as they are not offensive -- like escort ads -- that would be okay." So could I run this ad, I asked? "I would say definitely so. In my opinion, it's perfectly fine."

Why does George Will hate capitalism?

--Ezra Klein

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