By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

Rosie O'Donnell can't stand Star Jones for pretty much the same reason Ozzie Guillen hates Jay Mariotti.

Seriously, there are some similarities between the Star Jones-Rosie O'Donnell feud and the Jay Mariotti-Ozzie Guillen showdown. And this goes way beyond the fact that in terms of locating a more unpleasant foursome, you'd have to catch O.J. Simpson playing 18 holes with Barry Bonds, Rush Limbaugh and Mike Nifong.

No, at the core of these high-profile altercations is an underlying lack of respect for the way the lesser-known "star" achieved his or her notoriety. Before attacking their foes, O'Donnell and Guillen -- whether you agree with their positions or not -- guzzled a gallon of haterade.

They determined that Jones and Mariotti had achieved an undeserved stature and decided to use their considerable platforms to submarine the overachievers.

Star Jones
Jennifer Graylock/AP Photo
Are you going to miss Star Jones? Yeah, didn't think so.

O'Donnell, the militant lesbian actress/comedienne, forced Jones off the popular daytime gabfest "The View." Guillen, the militant, gay-slur-dropping manager of the White Sox, is trying to force Mariotti off the pages of the Chicago Sun-Times.

O'Donnell, who will debut on "The View" in September, has ripped Jones for refusing to talk about the gastric bypass surgery that allowed the up-from-poverty lawyer to shed more than 100 pounds and recast herself as a middle-aged Terry McMillan, complete with the convenient groove-back husband. Guillen -- upset by Mariotti's criticism of all things Chicago, including Dusty Baker, Jerry Reinsdorf, Shani Davis, Ken Williams, Santa Claus and children born into poverty -- ripped Mariotti for refusing to face the subjects he skewers.

Jones, a nine-year member of "The View," spent the early part of this week claiming that she was a victim. She told People magazine that she felt like she'd been fired. She said during a radio interview that she'd been betrayed by her co-workers. Mariotti, a 15-year Sun-Times employee, spent the early part of this week "laying low" on national cable talk shows ("The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" and "The Situation with Tucker Carlson") claiming that he was a victim of Ozzie and the White Sox's crude locker-room behavior.

Meanwhile, Jones' and Mariotti's colleagues turned on them publicly. Barbara Walters announced Jones' official dismissal from "The View" on Wednesday and chastised Jones for going public with her complaints and not sticking to an agreed-upon exit strategy. Columnists at the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times have taken turns shredding Mariotti for his refusal to enter the White Sox locker room and initiating the name-calling that provoked Guillen to label Mariotti a "f------ fag" and a "piece of s---" and to challenge Mariotti to confront the Sox face-to-face.

OK, so where are we with the similarities?

O'Donnell is a mean-spirited, popular lesbian. Guillen is a mean-spirited, popular manager willing to slur the gay community to make a point. Jones and Mariotti are both looking for victim status, and they've been excoriated by their peers. O'Donnell, Meredith Viera's replacement on "The View," pushed Jones off the show. Guillen, Mike Ditka's replacement as Chicago's newest, colorful coaching legend, wants to push Mariotti out of a job.

Well, I still haven't explained motive, and that's where this thing gets really interesting.

O'Donnell and Guillen do not fear Jones and Mariotti. It's a total lack of respect driving these feuds, these controversies.

Ozzie Guillen
Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo
Guillen can't respect a columnist who won't meet him face to face.

Jones and Mariotti are cheap knockoffs of Chicago icons -- Oprah and Mike Royko. That's why neither Jones nor Mariotti is drawing much sympathy from peers. O'Donnell and Guillen have simply done what Jones' and Mariotti's peers have longed to have happen for years.

Think about it. Star Jones has made a fortune running around pretending to be Li'l Oprah. Unfortunately, Jones doesn't have one-tenth of Oprah's talent or charm and, when it comes to losing weight, one ounce of Oprah's integrity.

Rosie is fat (and so am I). She has little respect for the way Jones has handled her weight loss. Over the years, we've all come to respect Oprah's battle with obesity. We've seen the nasty video footage of Oprah's road work. We've watched her balloon and deflate. Her struggle is the struggle of every woman or man who has spent a Friday night snuggled up on an empty couch with a bag of Doritos, con queso dip, a bowl of peanut M&M's and a liter of Diet Pepsi, contemplating the next consultation with a trainer/dietitian.

Hey, Rosie isn't upset that Jones took a shortcut to a slim figure. Rosie is mad because Jones won't admit it. It's a final piece of phoniness, the last straw in an Oprah II experiment gone horribly wrong.

Now Guillen probably has no idea who Mike Royko is. I can't imagine Guillen's newspaper-reading preference extending beyond the sports pages and the box scores, so he's probably pretty clueless about the man who made it possible for columnists in Chicago (and everywhere) to talk and write tough. But Guillen knows that any man or woman willing to call LaTroy Hawkins "LaToya" and Frank Thomas "The Big Skirt" should be man or woman enough to say it to Hawkins' and Thomas' face.

No, the fact that Mariotti is perceived as a cheap Royko knockoff is fueling the colleague backlash that is engulfing Mariotti. Royko made newspaper columnists seem important and believable. Mariotti makes sports columnists appear uninformed and cowardly. It's far easier to believe what someone has to say when he has the conviction to stand behind his words in person. And any opinion you wouldn't say to someone's face doesn't belong in print anyway.

Maybe when these controversies subside, Jones and Mariotti can collaborate on an alternative version of "The View" and call it "Milli Vanilli."

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for The Kansas City Star. He can be reached by e-mail at ballstate68@aol.com. Sound off to Page 2 here.




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