With Paris (Hilton, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock) finally succumbing to her time in jail, national media coverage has had to point its camera lens back toward newsworthy items; however, these stories about the war in Iraq and gas prices just don’t seem to hold that same level of excitement or panache that, say, pictures of Lindsay Lohan dancing around with knives while intoxicated has.

What has caused America’s obsession with celebrities? Why do we know more about pop culture than politics?

If one were to type “celebrity gossip” into any search engine, a plethora of websites devoted to the excess of others would appear. Even while going to major news websites, such as CNN.com, one finds headlines such as “Hilton to Walters: I’ll no longer ‘act dumb’” listed in the top headlines of the day, squeezed between “Bush: Immigration bill will work.”

Perhaps our craving for entertainment news is due to the bombardment of endless Entertainment Tonight/Access Hollywood/The Insider nonsense, and with the ever-growing popularity of “The Daily Show,” featuring Jon Stewart, a host who blends political and entertainment stories using satire and ironic quips.

A change could be coming, however.

According to a recent study by Tufts University, college students age 18-24 knew more about politics than pop culture, and were twice as likely as their non-student peers to spend more time reading and having political discussions. The study surveyed 500 students aged 18-24 and 500 non-students of comparable age.

“I think even the students who might pay more attention to pop culture than to the nitty gritty details of what’s going on in Washington realize fundamentally that politics matter more than the latest celebrity gossip,” Stanford University student Bobby Lepore said.

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