At a Republican fundraising dinner in Michigan on Thursday, conservative commentator Ben Stein complained that no one at the Oscars paid homage to the troops in Iraq, then suggested that such disrespect is why the box office is down. ”Stop spitting in the face of Americans and maybe we will go to the movies,” said the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off history teacher.

Setting aside the question of whether a tribute to the troops belonged at the Oscars, is he correct in suggesting that many moviegoers decide not to see certain films because they don’t like the stars’ liberal politics? If so, why are so few filmgoers supporting conservative Bruce Willis by going to see 16 Blocks? Or do Mos Def’s politics cancel out those of Willis? If moviegoers want only pro-Bush messages, why was V for Vendetta the No. 1 movie this weekend? Are moviegoers more liberal than Stein says they are, or do politics play no significant role when ticketbuyers vote at the multiplex?