During the 2008 campaign for president, the appeal and charisma of Barack Obama transcended a cult of personality and achieved pop-celebrity status. For his supporters, Obamamania eclipsed the Beatles and Elvis. Every word was applauded. During one campaign speech, Obama received widespread applause for blowing his nose.

Our media-image driven society contrasted this hip, youthful candidate with a white-haired old man who expressed his coolness through an awkward "thumbs up." One might parallel the Obama versus John McCain campaign to the televised John Kennedy and Richard Nixon debate, if only Nixon had not been so captivating and charming in comparison.

Obama was the quintessential MTV candidate. Now, eight months into his administration, the celebrity news of MTV and Obama have collided in a storm of civility stories.

Last week as President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to promote his health care initiative, Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted "you lie" after Obama claimed the health care bill would not cover illegal immigrants. Wilson's outburst was not unique and has been compared to the boos and grumbling criticisms from the Democrats against President George W. Bush during his 2005 State of the Union Address. Presumably, had more Republicans chimed in (as the Democrats did in 2005), rather than Wilson yelling alone, there would have been no controversy. Regardless of who did it first, it is still rude to invite the President into the chamber and treat him disrespectfully.

The Wilson outburst stole the show. Now Democrats and Republicans debate the merits of Wilson's criticism expressed with such brevity. In the past, Republican efforts at requiring an explicit verification and enforcement provision to ensure illegal immigrants were not included had been voted down. Now, in apparent response to Wilson's raising of the issue, the Democrats are giving ground and may allow a proof-of-citizenship measure on some of the health care provisions.

In a private phone call, Wilson apologized to Obama and Obama accepted it. But House Democrats were not satisfied and sought to sanction Wilson on the Floor of the House; providing Republicans yet another opportunity to debate the merits of Wilson's criticism.

If there is a real reprimand, it will come from the voters of his district. After Wilson's outburst, more than $1.5 million each poured into his campaign and his opponent's campaign. Nationally, most people disapproved of Wilson's behavior, but only 23 percent were outraged according to Gallup.

But the story has now taken the kind of turn usually reserved for television scripts.

Every year the MTV Video Music Awards program has some controversy whether true or created that attracts more attention than the actual program. (There is a certain irony to MTV still giving video awards when so little of its programming consists of videos.) Sunday night, rapper Kanye West crashed the stage while 19-year-old pop-country star Taylor Swift was giving thanks for her first Moonman award.

West, with mic in hand, interrupted Swift and began lauding Beyonce whose video had lost to Swift in that category. (Later, Beyonce showed real class when she won another category and invited Swift out to give thanks.) West was escorted from the facility only after Swift's mother - I guess the Nancy Pelosi to the Joe Wilson of this story - dressed him down. West later apologized in his fashion, first in a blog post and again from the set of the Jay Leno Show.

Within a day, the two stories collided on Internet video remixes of Obama's health care speech with West's interruption substituted for Wilson's remarks. Wilson's outburst and West's behavior, combined with the foul mouth tirade of tennis star Serena Williams, had everyone - politics, pop culture, sports - talking about civility.

Then, Monday evening, Obama was sitting for an interview with CNBC. Terry Moran, an ABC reporter, overheard the conversation and hit Twitter, "Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a 'jackass' for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT's presidential." Turns out, the conversation was "off-the-record" and ABC apologized to CNBC and the White House. (This wasn't West's first presidential moment. At a 2005 Hurricane Katrina benefit concert, West made headlines when he announced, "George Bush doesn't care about black people.")

Wilson misbehaved. He might be correct that the health care bill was contrary to what Obama was saying, but he expressed it in the wrong way.

West misbehaved. I might agree with him that Beyonce's video was superior to Swift's video, but he expressed it in the wrong way.

Obama? Well, calling West a "jackass" off-the-record might have been the best way to do it. And I agree with the sentiment as well as the delivery.

Now, if only Kanye West can do a video attacking Barack Obama featuring Joe Wilson playing tennis with Serena Williams, then we'll have a full circle of incivility.

Brian Perry is a partner in Capstone Public Affairs, LLC and a columnist for the Madison County Journal. Contact him at reasonablyright@brianperry.ms.