When the government said it would strike back at the terrorists, millions of Americans waved their tiny little flags. When fighter planes started dropping a mix of bombs and care packages on Afghanistan, the miniature banners continued to flutter. When the government enlisted top writers, directors and video game designers to help increase national security, people started scratching their heads.

The Bush administration’s latest defense in the war on terrorism has been to draft numerous right-brained types from the city of glitz and glamour and employ them as a semisecret government think tank. This means that the creative geniuses behind “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” “MacGyver” and “Seven” are now bringing us their greatest feature to date: improved national security.

As with all services rendered by Hollywood, this one is costing us a pretty penny as well. The project comes with a $45 million price tag to aid our government as it desperately tries to think outside the box.

The entertainment industry is no stranger to such assignments. During the conflict in Bosnia a similar group was created in order to design simulations of what U.S. troops might face in the region. One scenario involved a group of soldiers running over a young boy while a mass of rioters rushed towards them. It could happen; however, it’s not a question of feasibility, but probability.

Being prepared is one matter, but going for overkill will only result in a bad case of heebie-jeebies with our government jumping at its own shadow.

The ways that terrorists could attack the nation are infinite; they range from bombings to biological warfare. It’s the government’s responsibility to keep us safe, not a group of uninformed artists in L.A., no matter how creative they might be. This time, the dog is begging its tail for a good wagging.

This project doesn’t fill the average citizens with a good deal of faith in their government. The intent might be for us to look to our leaders as they say, “Hey! See how safe they’re making things? Aren’t you proud?” Maybe, but what we should ask the government is “Why aren’t you doing it?”

Washington’s argument is that they need inventive thinkers who can get into the minds of terrorists and imagine the multitude of ways we could be attacked. But Hollywood knows how to make movies, not plan defensive strategies. “Grease” was a great flick, but does its director have such a firm understanding of terrorist resources and religious fanaticism that he can presume to emulate them?

Given an industry notorious for oversimplifying and using extreme generalizations, just the idea that it’s been trusted with such important matters leaves a funny taste in the mouth.

If the government really wants to protect us, then they should rely on both shared national and international intelligence. Let Hollywood stick to what it’s good at: making fine entertainment to help our minds take a break from the grim realities facing us.

In a time when it’s the vogue thing to support every action the government takes, it becomes unfashionable to question its decisions. No matter the situation, however, we as citizens still should take the time to understand what’s going on and be critical of our leadership’s actions. It isn’t ungrateful; it isn’t undermining; it’s democracy. Bush and his people are still human.

Despite my negative rhetoric, the Hollywood think tank isn’t exactly a terrible idea. It does, however, appear to be just another misguided attempt to soothe the frayed nerves of a stressed-out nation. Kind of like those infomercials where you can buy a set of American flags for the low price of $4.99. Act now and get your limited additional American flag lapel pin.

Steven Ruszczycky is a Daily Nexus columnist who really wants to have a name for his weekly rants, but he can’t think of anything that would look good in a black box. If you have a witty suggestion, e-mail it to him at.