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Ashton Kutcher is right ... because he's from the left

By Paul Begala, CNN Contributor
August 23, 2013 -- Updated 1743 GMT (0143 HKT)
Ashton Kutcher speaks at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards
Ashton Kutcher speaks at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sarah Palin praised Ashton Kutcher for his speech about the importance of working hard
  • Paul Begala: So how did this Hollywood liberal become the darling of conservatives?
  • He says perhaps conservatives saw the light; if so, let's see them walk the walk
  • Begala: Liberals extoll hard work; conservatives honor wealth, punish work

Editor's note: Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, was a political consultant for Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992 and was counselor to Clinton in the White House.

(CNN) -- It's not often that I agree with Sarah Palin. But when she comes around to a liberal point of view on an issue, that is to be noted with praise. So, good for you, Sarah, for flip-flopping on the issue of hard work.

Palin took to Facebook recently to praise the remarks of liberal actor Ashton Kutcher, who has in the past donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats and participated in a star-studded video pledging, "to serve our President (Obama) and all mankind."

So how did this Hollywood liberal become the darling of Sarah Palin? By speaking out on behalf of a truly liberal value: hard work.

Paul Begala
Paul Begala

"I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work," Kutcher said in a speech he gave at the Teen Choice Awards. "I've never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a steppingstone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job."

Palin and other conservatives lept to embrace Kutcher's comments, as though they were conservative. They are, of course, profoundly liberal.

It is liberals who honor, extoll and reward hard work. That's why President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and virtually all Democrats support raising the minimum wage -- to honor and reward those who choose work over welfare, and ensure an honest day's work pays enough to feed a family. That's why President Obama and the Democrats cut taxes on working people by $3,600 over four years. And that's why President Obama won the votes of working-class Americans (those making less than $100,000 a year) by a full 10 points.

But perhaps Palin and others on the right have seen the light. Perhaps Kutcher's bracing and bold statement of liberalism has moved them. If so, let's see them walk the walk. Because at the present moment Republicans seem to honor wealth and punish work.

How else can you explain that they want a tax code in which a billionaire heiress pays nothing on her inheritance, while the hard-working maid who makes the heiress' bed pays taxes on every nickel she earns?

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney pocketed $42 million during 2011 and 2012. He did not earn that money from work -- he accrued it through wealth. His investments garnered him tens of millions while he ran around the country campaigning. And yet Romney paid merely 12% in taxes. By contrast, a cop married to a teacher, each making the median income of around $50,000 a year, pays a marginal tax rate of 25%. Even with deductions they are almost certainly paying a greater percentage of their income in taxes than mega-millionaire Romney.

Palin, who famously quit on the people of Alaska when she got too big for the gig of governing her beautiful state, is an especially unfortunate spokesperson for the value of hard work. One hopes she takes Kutcher's liberal advice to heart, and supports working people in word and deed.

And if Palin liked Kutcher's Teen Choice remarks, she'll love this statement: "Success may not come quickly or easily. But if you strive to do what's right, if you work harder and dream bigger, if you set an example in your own lives and do your part to help meet the challenges of our time, then I'm confident that, together, we will continue the never-ending task of perfecting our union."

Those are not the words of Ashton Kutcher. No, the liberal extolling hard work and patriotism in those comments was Palin's president -- and mine and Ashton Kutcher's and every American's president: Barack Obama.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul Begala.

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