Robberies, drive-by shootings and beatings of prostitutes have long been standard features of Grand Theft Auto video games. But hidden sex scenes have crossed the line. The discovery that in the latest edition, San Andreas, avid fans can direct X-rated action-- by accessing code on the Internet to unlock content on the disk--has led the game-ratings board to slap it with a restrictive Adults Only label. No surprise there. Less expected, however, is the major role Democrats have played in the campaign to protect children from nasty video games. The Democratic-controlled Illinois legislature recently passed a bill that would make it a crime to sell violent or sexually explicit games to kids under 18. Hillary Clinton, who has been among the most outspoken critics of Grand Theft Auto, is working on a similar bill.
The Democrats' growing interest in shielding kids from pernicious pop culture comes at a time when the party is increasingly worried about closing the "parent gap"--the G.O.P.'s big edge in support among married parents of young children. The topic will be front and center at this week's conference of the Democratic Leadership Council in Columbus, Ohio, where the party will be urged to support such ideas as requiring cable companies to create family-friendly packages of channels. Attending the centrist group's event, along with Clinton, will be Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack and Indiana Senator Evan Bayh--all probable contenders for the '08 Democratic presidential nomination. --By Perry Bacon Jr.