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Let’s Send ‘Dog’ to Retrieve Bin Laden

Once again, I must begin with a disclaimer:

I’m still on post-op drugs, so although I think I saw a story that said Saddam Hussein loves Doritos and believes he’s still president of Iraq, and another one saying that a pizzeria owner from Hayward, Calif., paid a bounty hunter to track down and kill Osama bin Laden, I might still be a little fuzzy on things.

I have cut back on the drugs enough, however, so that I now fly into a rage at any mention of Tom Cruise. If he had jumped around on Oprah’s couch and said he was in love with John Travolta and they were leaving Scientology to open a hair salon, I’d be mildly interested. But I don’t care whether he loves Katie Holmes, what it all means, or whether anyone sees their Batman movie.

Bounty hunters, though. That’s a subject that interests me, and not just because of the Hayward pizza connection to Bin Laden.

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Two years ago I wrote about a bounty hunter named Duane “Dog” Chapman. He’s the guy who nabbed that degenerate Andrew Luster, the descendant of Max Factor who skipped the country before being convicted of rape charges.

For those who’ve forgotten, the FBI fell asleep on the job while Chapman tracked Luster to Mexico and nabbed him, only to get locked up by Mexican police and trashed by the FBI for not respecting international law.

I defended Chapman, and then several months later, while vacationing in Hawaii where he lives, I bumped into him at a supermarket.

“Dog,” who looks like a lion tamer in a traveling carnival, gave my wife a bear hug. He and his wife, Beth -- a cross between Mae West and Anna Nicole Smith -- emphatically thanked me for a boost that they claimed had reversed his fortunes. Dog said my column had helped him land a reality show on the A&E; network called “Dog the Bounty Hunter.”

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I always knew I was doing the Lord’s work.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t even heard of Dog’s show. My interest in “reality” TV began to wane roughly 15 minutes into the first episode of “Survivor.”

Then one night, after I got home late from work, the lovely and talented Alison told me she had seen Dog’s show. She wore a strange expression, as if Saturnians had transplanted a new frontal lobe into her head, and she seemed forever altered by a single night’s journey into the white-hot vortex of pop culture.

We began watching together on Tuesday nights as Dog and Beth pursued Hawaiian low-lifes and deadbeats, and sure enough, I’ve never witnessed such a campy mix of knuckleheaded suspense, patriotism, romance, and trailer-park law and order.

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Dog, a former felon, uses his charms to cajole tipsters and his street instincts to outthink bad guys. Then, after calling his targets pond scum for the entire show, Dog nabs the perps and becomes a puppy, preaching redemption and faith.

Beth, who often wears heels and mini-skirts on stakeouts, complained in a recent episode that she had broken four fingernails on a single fugitive.

Do you see where I’m going here, folks? I think I’ve got a new job for Dog.

The U.S. government has been so inept in tracking down Bin Laden that the owner of Hayward’s Liberty Pizza allegedly tried to help out, and authorities believe some of the money he illegally transferred to Afghanistan and Pakistan ended up in the hands of a bounty hunter and former Green Beret.

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What next, Dunkin’ Donuts sends out a posse?

Meanwhile, the CIA director said this week he has an “excellent idea” where Bin Laden is, but the U.S. has “some weak links” in its war on terror.

I’ll say. It probably didn’t help that we invaded the wrong country, going after the most secular Arab leader when the real threat was from fundamentalist maniacs who blow fellow Muslims to smithereens while decrying a lack of respect for the Koran.

I say we get the troops out of Iraq and send them after the man we should have targeted all along, with Duane “Dog” Chapman leading the charge. The Dog tells me he’s ready to answer the call for his country, and as we know, he already collared one international fugitive after the federal government lost the scent.

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“We had a limo driver here in L.A.,” Chapman told me by phone, visiting Southern California with Beth to do the Jay Leno show and take the kids to Disneyland, “and the driver says to me, ‘Dog, do you know what Osama bin Laden is doing right now? He’s sitting in his house laughing at America, because we don’t know where to look.’ He said, ‘Dog, I could help you. Let’s go get him.’ ”

Dog told me he so despises Bin Laden, he often imagines that his other jobs are mere practice runs for the day when he goes after the world’s most infamous terrorist. A bounty hunter is always in enemy territory, Dog says, and the key is to win over anyone who might know anything.

“When we go into hostile places where I’m a fish out of water, I tell the crew to pretend we’re looking for Osama bin Laden and everyone is carrying bombs -- they hate us -- but we’re going to use our personalities to win them over,” Dog said, acknowledging that this might be a bit more difficult in Middle Eastern cave country than in Honolulu.

“I would tell them, ‘Listen, do you know what red, white and blue means? It means freedom.’ You have to offer them a dream, so fear does not hold them. Osama bin Laden lives off of fear -- not loyalty or sovereignty, but fear -- and I would overcome that. You see how it works on the show? I go into a neighborhood where people hate my guts and I work the crowd to like me.”

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A longshot, yes, but the same could have been said about Andrew Luster.

And besides, as Bin Laden comes up on four years of thumbing his nose at his U.S. pursuers, could Dog do any worse?

*

Reach the columnist at steve.lopez@latimes.com and read previous columns at www.latimes.com/lopez.

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