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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Inauguration gets plenty of coverage

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate

At 9 a.m. today President George Bush takes the oath of office for the second time – an event covered by every network and cable news channel.

ABC is even covering the inauguration in high-definition, so those of you with expensive TV sets can better see every throbbing vein in Dick Cheney’s temple.

For the real fun, there’s always the “Inaugural Ball” (6 p.m., CSPAN). These odd parties lend themselves to CSPAN’s unique surveillance-camera production values and lack of commentary. It’s a little like somebody left an abandoned camcorder running at the most expensive wedding reception in the world.

Inaugural balls and parties capture the train-wreck collision between politics, pop-culture and alcohol.

Who can forget the 1989 party for the first President Bush when his political guru Lee Atwater picked up a blues guitar and “boogied”?

Nobody ever wanted to see Richard Nixon dance, but dance he did, at two inaugural balls.

I never understood the unhinged and vitriolic personal animus that some Republicans had for President Bill Clinton. Perhaps the choice entertainment at his 1993 bash, including Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand and Kenny G., had something to do with it.

Speaking of surveillance cameras, Peter Jennings hosts “No Place to Hide” (10 p.m., ABC), a special report on security and freedom in the digital age.

Jennings observes how the revolution in technology and the security concerns of a post-9/11 climate have combined to all but eliminate our sense of privacy.

Security cameras monitor our public actions in crowded spaces while private companies keep track of even the smallest transactions made by credit, debit and ATM cards.

Now both marketers and federal agents have the potential to use this data to “profile” consumers and individuals and make judgments about buying patterns and, perhaps, subversive behavior.

Does Big Brother work for the Department of Homeland Security, or The Gap?

Only scant weeks removed from one of the dullest finales in recorded history, “The Apprentice” (8:30 p.m., NBC) returns for a third season.

This time, the Donald has divided would-be acolytes into two teams. Members of his “book smart” group have fancy diplomas and business-school backgrounds. Think Kwame from Season 1.

Those in the “street smart” set have only high school educations but have earned their money by starting their own businesses or working their way up through franchises like Mary Kay Cosmetics. As such, they resemble Troy.

Tonight, both groups will pick their new team name and compete to see who can best run a Burger King restaurant and launch a brand-new hamburger variation.

Other highlights

Would-be taste arbiters tangle on “Wickedly Perfect” (8 p.m., CBS).

The guys and gals go their separate ways on “The O.C.” (10:30 p.m., Fox).

Kirsten Dunst stars in the 2000 cheerleader satire “Bring It On” (8 p.m., WB).

As the town prepares for its annual regatta, Christina continues the search for her mother on “Point Pleasant” (9 p.m., Fox).

The grim reaper stalks swingers on “CSI” (9 p.m., CBS).

A man who claimed he had been abducted by aliens vanishes into thin air on “Without a Trace” (10 p.m., CBS).

Neela’s bedside manner leaves much to be desired on “ER” (10 p.m., NBC).

Cult choice

Robert Downey Jr. stars in “Restoration” (5:30 p.m., Independent Film Channel), director Michael Hoffman’s opulent tale of 17th-century British decadence.

Series notes

The search for a personal assistant on “Joey” (8 p.m., NBC) … A class trip to disaster on “Life as We Know It” (8 p.m., ABC) … Wrestling on “WWE SmackDown!” (8 p.m., UPN).

Best friends transformed on “Extreme Makeover” (9 p.m., ABC).