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Out of the mine - Peter Funt

Wasn't it a wonderful sight? And didn't it spark emotions in all of us that haven't been felt in a long time?

The rescue of the 33 miners from the gold and copper mine near Copiapo, Chile, became a television spectacle of the best sort.

Folks, who never even turn their heads to watch cable news, crowded around TV sets in restaurants and stores, offices and schools, to catch a glimpse of the guys who had spent 69 days almost a half-mile underground.

Americans love a good drama. This had it all: suspense, intrigue, high-tech collaboration among several nations, and loved ones counting the moments.

Best of all: a happy ending.

Of course the TV coverage was not without its comedic low-lights. CNN's Gary Tuchman, reporting from "three football fields away," was moved to tell viewers it felt to him like the time Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

What was he thinking? That the dusty ground near the San Jose mine reminded him of the barren surface of the moon? That both missions used "capsules" for transport? That one miner brought out a bag of Mine Rocks, just as the astronauts brought home Moon Rocks?

Back in the CNN studio, host Larry King, upon learning that miner number two was named Mario Sepulveda, asked Tuchman if the name might be somehow connected to Supulveda Boulevard in Los Angeles.

When Tuchman conceded he was stumped, King suggested that the LA street might now be renamed "Mario Sepulveda Boulevard."

But this was a story that even inept reporters couldn't spoil. This was the human spirit on display.

By comparison, the BP oil disaster off the U.S. Gulf Coast had many of the same elements, yet basically left viewers sick to their stomachs -- even after the leak was capped.

Whereas the Chilean officials seemed genuine and dedicated, and restrained to the point that they said rescue might not be possible until December, the oil company people and even our government representatives often appeared clueless.

I don't know much about the mood in Chile these days, but there was quite a lot of joyous whooping and hollering as the rescue unfolded. Here in the U.S., it's apparent that folks are desperate for any sign that the human spirit can still defy the odds and rise to the surface.

We love to see the cat rescued from the tree, the toddler pulled from the well, the miners saved in such miraculous fashion.

This was a feel-good moment if ever there was one.

And these days, it too often seems as if such moments are hopelessly buried.

Peter Funt is a writer and public speaker. He may be reached at www.CandidCamera.com. He's also the long-time host of "Candid Camera." A collection of his DVDs is available at www.candidcamera.com. This column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.