But in a way he couldn't have planned, Burns has ended up making his most topical and political film yet. With America frothing over the role of government — should it save banks? should it expand health coverage? — The National Parks makes a simple case for an idea that is wildly controversial in the year of the tea party: That we need government to do things the private sector can't or won't.
…The national parks — and The National Parks — are based on ideas that are classically, if not radically, communitarian: That the free market doesn't always act in the public interest. That it's good that every American shares ownership of and responsibility for the most exclusive properties in the country. And that it is right for people — through government — to protect them from business interests and even from the people themselves (like the early visitors who shot game and scratched their names on ancient rocks). A series on a public-TV network that calls a government program America's best idea? Has no one alerted Rush Limbaugh?