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Penn's Dictatorial Double-Standard

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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THE TWO AMIGOS Penn, Chavez (Photo: Getty Images) Hugo Chavez fans worried that the Latin American strongman might get torched by Sean Penn are resting easier after the movie star's soft-spoken Letterman appearance this week.

Penn has been mostly reticent about his summer jaunt with Chavez, hinting that his upcoming report on the event may look less like the soiled underwear-referencing jeremiad

he dropped on President Bush and more like Andy Samberg's digital mash-up to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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Penn rejected Letterman's suggestion that Chavez might be "nuts" and "wacky," describing him instead as "a very fascinating guy" who has "done, for the moment, incredible things for the 80 percent of the people that are very poor there." For someone with far Left leanings, it's understandable how Chavez's use of Venezuela's booming oil revenues to play Socialist Santa Claus to his country's long-suffering lower class may hold a certain appeal. But still unknown is how Penn reconciles the media crack-down and free-speech restraints Chavez has implemented in the past.

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