ELLEN GRAY | Opinion Shows give us a chance to find common ground

Come November, I'd like to see Teresa Heinz Kerry living in the White House.
Or maybe even on a ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Either way, I think the would-be first lady should spend a couple of those post-election weeks sharing a household with George Bush, talking his ear off about both her first and second husbands, maybe showing those recalcitrant twins a thing or two about behaving -- or misbehaving -- in public.
And Laura Bush? I see her teaching John Kerry the joys of an early bedtime. Maybe by reading to him from "The Book of Virtues."
After a bruising campaign, swapping wives -- in a totally PG way -- could be very healing for both men AND their families.
I learned that watching Fox's "Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy," as well as the pilot for the slightly upscale ABC version, "Wife Swap," two shows that have taught me more about American politics than those three wise men, Dan, Peter and Tom, seem able to this year.
Think we live in a nation of red and blue states?
Not exactly.
No, we live in a nation of carb-shunners and carb-loaders, of spenders and savers, of people who cook dinner and people who order out, of the carelessly fat and the obsessively thin, of those whose work is their exercise and those whose exercise is their work, of those who love rap and those who are more than a little bit country.
Most of all, we live in a nation of judges.
What we care about
Few of us would turn up our noses at the neighbors over differences involving stem-cell research or tax cuts, but we DO care -- apparently very deeply -- about how they're bringing up their children: how much time they're spending in front of the TV, what they're eating for dinner, how they treat a stranger in their home (and the camera crew that may accompany her).
What we watch on TV marks us, too, and so I'm prompted to explain that I resisted "Trading Spouses" for weeks, even as my ever-responsible DVR recorded episodes. It wasn't so much distaste for the concept as it was misguided loyalty to the ABC version, which the network bought from the British and which Fox essentially ripped off and got on the air first.
But like the women who walk into strange homes and wonder whose idea it was to decorate with dog hair and dust bunnies, it doesn't matter how I got here.
I'm here now.
We agree
And while I'm still perplexed that a country founded on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness could be so full of people who disagree vehemently about the meaning of all three, I'm comforted to learn there are those out there who might hate my politics but agree with me totally on the importance of family dinners, whose children and mine could bond over video games even as their parents argued about gay marriage or abortion.
Maybe we can't all just get along. But it wouldn't hurt any of us to rock in one another's La-Z-Boys for a week or two.
XGray writes for Philadelphia Daily News. The weekly column by Vindicator entertainment editor Debora Shaulis will return next week.

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