When the subject is the proper use of child auto safety seats, the first name that pops into many of our heads is (say it together, now) "Britney Spears."
In most cases, it's because we were already daydreaming about Britney when someone else launched into a tirade on child safety. And that someone is almost always - say it with us again - "US Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta."
Last week, Mineta ridiculed the pop tart after she was photographed driving her SUV with her child perched on her lap, instead of having him properly strapped in the back. This lapse in care by America's Mom of the Year handily occurred just as Mineta was scheduled to announce the administration's new child car seat safety initiative at the kickoff of "Child Passenger Safety Week," and the temptation to make the all-powerful pop culture tie-in was too much for him to resist.
Mineta labeled Britney's child ride-along "troubling," adding, "Her actions send the wrong message to millions of her fans."
Let lie for a moment the eerie idea that millions of people may be taking child safety advice from paparazzi photos of ex-Lolita-esque singers. Leave aside the even eerier idea that the US Transportation Secretary could be deeply troubled by the driving habits of the co-star of Britney and Kevin: Chaotic. The real gaffe here is the oft-repeated but never justified specter of a stuffy bureaucrat grasping weakly for an entertaining news hook. Cabinet members should look to more high-minded icons for praise and censure.
3. On the right track