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Politics plays on night of music
- Bill Clinton shares Grammy with Gorbachev and Sophia Loren

Washington, Feb. 9: If five wins for half-Indian Norah Jones was the big surprise of last year’s Grammy awards, last night’s surprise at the 46th annual Grammys was the winner himself: former US President Bill Clinton.

And to cap the surprise, Clinton shared his win with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

At one point during the glittering ceremony in Los Angeles, it appeared that politicians were invading the exclusive world of entertainment.

One nominee who lost out was Clinton’s wife, New York’s junior senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But she ought not have any regrets. In the years before she went into active politics and was forced to give in to special interests and America’s Jewish lobby to succeed, senator Clinton had bagged her own Grammy.

Eight years ago, she was awarded a Grammy for the reading of her book It Takes a Village.

Her husband’s win this year was in the category of Best Spoken Word Album for Children. The former President and Gorbachev, along with actress Sophia Loren, shared the Grammy for lending their voice to the Russian folk tale Peter and the Wolf.

The recording of the musical tale was in honour of the legendary Russian pianist, Sergei Prokofiev, who died 50 years ago, last year.

Last night’s Grammys took place in the shadow of singer Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during a break in America’s most watched TV sports event, the Super Bowl night, 10 days ago.

Justin Timberlake, her partner on the stage who ripped off her garment and exposed one breast, apologised at the Grammy awards for the incident.

“I apologise if you guys were offended,” he said in his second apology since the event.

CBS, which televised the Grammys and the Super Bowl Halftime Show, put in place a five-minute delay on its live telecast last night to avoid any repetition of the Jackson episode.

Timberlake’s apology came in response to a demand from the TV network. Jackson declined an invitation to apologise-and-appear on the show. Timberlake accepted.

If that was politic, politics was not far behind at the Grammys in an election year dominated by the war in Iraq, tax cuts for the wealthiest and onslaughts on America’s civil liberties.

Hillary Clinton was beaten to the award by author Al Franken, whose bestseller, Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them won in the category for the Best Spoken Word Album.

The book, which the author describes as “a fair and balanced look at the right” trashes Paul Wolfowitz, an architect of the Bush war in Iraq, Karl Rove, the President’s chief political strategist and other leading lights of the American right.

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