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Gary Younge
Youth find more truth in Eminem than Bush

Americans don't care what Europe thinks of them and believe their children find more truth in Eminem's lyrics than the speeches of George Bush.

Those are the conclusions of an online poll of more than 1,000 people that reveals an insular, parochial nation which is growing ever more cynical about its own legislators and opinion-formers.

Remarkably, 53% agreed that "America's youth find more 'truth' in Eminem's lyrics than in President Bush's speeches', according to the survey conducted by the New York advertising agency Euro RSCG.

Even though the lyrics of Eminem, a white rapper, have been branded homophobic and misogynistic, only 19% disagreed with the statement. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, almost two-thirds of respondents believed that Eminem was more truthful.

Mr Bush has traditionally scored well on trust but recent polls show that his credibility has been diminished by the failure to find weapons of mass destruction and false statements made in his state of the union speech about Iraq's attempts to procure nuclear weapons material from Niger.

"I think Eminem speaks of the street while the idea that politicians are people you can always trust gets weaker and weaker," says Marian Salzman, chief strategy officer at Euro RSCG. "People think you just have to keep asking questions and they don't always believe the answers." It is not clear where they hope to get the answers from, however, as the media does not have the people's trust either.

Americans remain most interested in local news. They would rather read the weather report and the classified ads section before they look at international news.

When it comes to trusting the source of the news, the New York Times' recent scandals have taken their toll. It only ranks alongside USA Today and MSNBC.com in terms of being trustworthy, and is below the weekly magazines Time and Newsweek. The most trustworthy media source, the survey says, is the Wall Street Journal.

Americans appear to be shedding no tears about the increasing global antipathy to the US, particularly among its erstwhile allies in Europe. Some 43% agreed with the statement: "I don't much care what Europeans think - they are there, and I am here." Only 29% disagreed.

"More now than ever there is a view that 'I'm not interested in what the views of someone who doesn't like me and respect me'," Ms Salzman said.

She believes the survey exposes a deeper and more lasting erosion in public confidence in America's political establishment which is being replaced by a desire for individuals to get ahead.

"The American dream is not caught up in the designated institutions and those in office. It's in the power of cash. There's a loss of faith on the part of young people in political institutions in general and government in particular."

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