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Prime Time For Tim McVeigh?

As the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh approaches, the controversy increases.

Death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean favors the worldwide broadcast of the May 16 federal execution.

So does CBS News 60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt, who once said any ratings earned by such an event weren't that important.

McVeigh, 33, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection in Terre Haute, Ind., for the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children.

The Catholic nun, who has ministered to condemned prisoners, said showing the execution might change Americans' opinions of capital punishment.

"We need to witness it," said Prejean, whose book "Dead Man Walking" was made into a movie and turned her into a voice of the death-penalty abolition movement.

"We are so separated from this, we don't see the consequences of our actions," said Prejean, who chairs the board of directors of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Although four years ago Hewitt opposed televising the execution, he's changed his mind.

"You put a guy on a gurney and stick a needle in his arm. People watch that on "ER" every week. What's the big deal?" he told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "He goes to sleep and doesn't wake up. It doesn't seem so terrible to me."

Hewitt said he would not televise "a guy going to the gallows or being fried in the electric chair," but lethal injection is sympathetic, not an act of revenge. "You're doing this miserable S.O.B. a favor."

On Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney rejected Pope John Paul II's request that President Bush spare McVeigh's life, saying that the Oklahoma City bomber should be put to death.

"I think if there was ever a man who deserves to be executed, it's probably Timothy McVeigh," Cheney said on "Fox News Sunday."

Mr. Bush received a letter last week from John Paul in which the pope made his clemency request. Legal scholars said it appeared the president had no way to intervene in the execution even if he were inclined to. The president supports capital punishment.

A White House spokeswoman said Mr. Bush had no intention of trying to grant clemency.

"The president has great respect for the pope and this is a tragic situation. The president also has deep compassion and sympathy for the 168 victims of the Oklahoma City bombing and their families," spokeswoman Claire Buchan said.

Cheney went further: "I think that'd be a mistake," when asked about the administration's view on the pope's request.

"Here's a man who blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City, killed over 160 innocent people, including 19 children, has admitted as much that he did in fact do it and has set aside the appeals process," Cheney said.

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