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Punishing Michael Phelps
A sheriff considers criminal charges against Olympic swimming champ Phelps stemming from a pot-smoking photo
W

hat happened
The Richland County, S.C., sheriff's office is investigating to determine whether to file criminal charges against Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, who was photographed inhaling from a glass marijuana pipe at a November college party in Columbia, S.C. The sheriff, Leon Lott, is known for his tough stance on drugs, the Associated Press reported. (Los Angeles Times)

What the commentators said
"It's Hell being a celebrity," said Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post. It's also hell being sheriff in a county with "escalating drug crimes and pressure to treat all offenders equally." That's why both Phelps and Lott are "being forced to treat seriously a crime that shouldn't be one."

George W. Bush got to shrug off his "youthful indiscretions," said Mike Edison in The Daily Beast. Our current president has admitted to taking the occasional toke "back in his Hawaiian hoodlum days." So why go after a "23-year-old rock star" like Phelps?

"It doesn't matter that 'everybody else is doing it,'" said Michael Wilbon in The Washington Post. Phelps of all people should have known to be on his best behavior. Sponsors—including AT&T, Visa, Speedo, and others—are paying him $100 million for the privilege of being linked to his image, and the image they're paying for is scandal-free.

And Phelps has hurt more than his sponsors, said Rodger Jones in The Dallas Morning News. Our big Olympic hero has just validated "the world opinion of Americans as self-indulgent, self-interested consumerists engaging in a perpetual national frat party. Thanks, Michael."

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