During last Friday’s nationally syndicated radio show, Glenn Beck poked fun at Malia Obama, the president’s daughter. The day before, during a rare press conference, Obama mentioned that his daughter asks him every morning if he has “plugged the hole yet?”, referring to the BP oil spill. Mimicking her, Beck went from that to ‘asking’ her daddy why he hates black people? Clearly, Glenn went way overboard. After scolded by his wife, Beck issued an apology Friday evening. On his Fox News cable TV show today, Glenn spent the first 19 minutes in contrition.

Following that, Beck posed the question of “Who are we, as Americans?”. He raised an earlier article from the Huffington Post ridiculing his ‘Founders Fridays’ series, which are to reacquaint us with our Founding Fathers. The Huff-Post article blasted Beck for bringing up how they were devout Christians. Interestingly, the Huff-Post writer did not deny that what Beck was saying is factual, but only it’s relevance to today. Moral values are no longer needed in the 21st Century.

Beck made a passing reference to the sinkhole in Guatemala City. If you have not seen pictures of yet, you really should, it’s pretty remarkable. It reminds me of the sinkholes from the AMC remake of “The Prisoner”. I know a lot of purists don’t like the remake, but I do, and I’ve been a fan of the original Patrick McGoohan series from 1967 since it first aired. The reason I bring this up is because of another line of questioning Beck raised on today’s TV show, “Who are we, as Americans?”

Beck gave us two options to choose from, both from the summer of 1969. Option A are those who participated that fateful evening on July 20th, as one billion people worldwide huddled around their TV sets to watch Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to walk on the Moon. Option B are the 500,000 or so whom gathered in upstate New York to attend the three-day Woodstock festival. Beck distilled the two events down a choice between using slide-rules for turning dreams into reality or using drugs and loud music to have mud-caked orgies.

Personally, I think he missed the mark on this one. True, anybody rational mind would automatically choose the Moon landing as the sort of America we want to be. But given the context of his own gaff with morality, Beck should have looked in a different direction. Luckily for you folks, you have me to point the way to enlightenment!

The really differences, as in any moral question, are more aptly seen in allegory. Take for example the season finale of “LOST”. For some six years, viewers tuned in weekly to try to solve the mysteries of Lost Island. Now, I’ve only watched about 30 minutes of two episodes during the entire series, but I pretty much got it watching the last half hour of the finale. For starters, the final scene of the wreckage tells it all. Nobody could have survived, they all died. So the exercise was a trot through Purgatory, that Netherworld between Heaven and Hell, as the passengers resolve what they could of their lives before a final, eternal judgment.

But being a fan of both versions of “The Prisoner”, what Beck is looking for is really there, and much easier to find. The original 1967 series was only 17 one hour episodes, the 2009 remake being only 6 one-hour episodes. Both tell different stories, though still loosely connected. In the original, Number Six, played by McGoohan, is kidnapped after resigning from his spy career. A series of ‘Number Two” characters play mind games with him to learn why he resigned. But ‘6’ played a game with them as well, as he sought to learn who Number One was and achieve freedom from his prison, ‘The Village’.

In the 2009 version, James Caviezel plays ‘6’, who resigns from his job as behavioral analyst for a high-tech security corporation. Oddly enough, the very people he had been watching are all in his Village. We eventually learn that the Village itself is construct of the mind of Number Two’s wife. The more often she is conscious, the more of the Village begins to fall apart, as sinkholes appear everywhere.

The connecting thread between these two realities, and that of Beck’s moral dilemma, and “LOST” for that matter, is that we are all prisoners of our own lives. Of our own doing, of our own creation. McGoohan finally confronts Number One, pulls off his mask and sees himself. Freedom is a state of mind, as McGoohan acquires after escaping The Village with the hippie, Roger Daltry look-a-like prisoner in the final episode. For Caviezel, his love for 313, the Village doctor who is actually an insane woman in ‘reality’, causes him to choose to remain a prisoner. He accepts his captivity to keep 313 ‘normal’ and becomes the new mind that holds the Village together. In “LOST”, those who find redemption join the others in church before their final exit into eternity. Once they make their choice, they die or escape the island.

For Beck, he intends to use many of the shows for this summer exploring his question. His own moral failings. Taking a cheap shot at the president’s children was a mistake, which Glenn acknowledges now. Frankly, Obama opened the door invoking the incident himself. But, that’s a moral dilemma Obama needs to work on himself. It’s not the first time he’s used members of his own family for political gain and I suspect it won’t be the last. But that still does not absolve Beck. To avoid falling into a sinkhole of his own making, Glenn needs to figure out who he is and where he wants to go. Will he content himself with being Number Six or fight to be Number One? Will he seek redemption or forever remain lost in Purgatory?