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Parkinsons and politics

Appearing on CNN this afternoon, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno lauded actor Michael J. Fox for taping a television ad supporting embroynic stem cell research and a Democratic Missouri Senate candidate.

Reno, who like Fox has Parkinson's disease, said it was "important for Michael to get out on the table how Parkinson's affects people and what can be done to make a difference.

"We need a bipartisan solution to the stem cell funding issue,'' she said. "And we need to do it with proper science, not politics."

She said Fox was well within bounds to publicize his illness.

"Why shouldn't they be able to talk about it, why shouldn't they be able to say 'Look, this is my experience,' " she said.

Fox's appearance led radio show host Rush Limbaugh to suggest that Fox was exaggerating the effects of the disease, a contention Reno rejected.

"I think that anybody who said that should know a little bit more about Parkinson's,'' she said.

Reno, who lost the Democratic nominee for Florida governor in 2002, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1995 while she was serving the first of two terms as attorney general under former President Bill Clinton.

"We're so close to solving this problem," she said. "It is imperative from just good common sense and human compassion that we solve this problem now."