(Quick note - although it claims you have to subscribe to read the article cited, you can get a "day pass" - you have to click through a brief web commercial, but you get to read this...and a really kewl article on Husker Du's classic album, ZenArcade)
To be honest, I had strange heroes growing up - most kids liked baseball, basketball, football...except for Walter Payton, my role models were Doctor Who (the Jon Pertwee version), John Steed of the Avengers, and Ralph Nader. There was something inherently cool about guys who took on bigger causes, fought evil, and were able to do it (although maybe not in Nader's case) with charm, flair, and wit.
When I was looking up an article on a favorite album, I came across this
Salon article about Ralph Nader, and quite frankly...if half of what is said is true, I'm disappointed, but not surprised.
It's easy to see oneself as the kind of Raymond Chandler-esque, "down these mean streets a man must walk who is himself not mean, neither tarnished nor afraid" kind of person, that taking on great causes means that you yourself are indestructibe or beyond reproach. (Look at what has happened/is happening with Michael Moore. It's considering yourself the only bastion of truth, justice, and the American way...and making sure everyone knows it. (In all fairness, I've pulled this kind of thing myself).
I guess the Stranglers were right - no more heroes anymore...