Madonna may have decided to shelve her ''American Life'' video without ever airing it, but she's certainly getting a lot of mileage out of it. In an interview airing Wednesday night on VH1 during a special called ''Madonna Speaks,'' the singer discusses her decision at length, saying she was prompted by a wartime climate that discourages dissent not to air the video, which had been criticized in advance as being antiwar and anti-President Bush.
''You know it's ironic that we're fighting for democracy in Iraq because we ultimately aren't celebrating democracy here,'' she says in the interview. "Because anybody who has anything to say against the war or against the president or whatever -- is punished, and that's not democracy. It's people being intolerant. And you know, everyone's entitled to their opinion, for or against, and that's what our constitutional rights are supposed to be, that we all have the freedom to express ourselves and voice our dissent if we have that.''
The special will also feature a taped performance of the song and another, chattier interview, conducted by Megan Mullally, who's apparently Madonna's new best friend. (Madonna agreed to guest-star on next week's ''Will & Grace'' on the condition that she get to play her scenes opposite Mullally. She'll play a troublesome new assistant and roommate for Mullally's Karen.) ''Madonna Speaks'' is a dry run for a blitz of TV promotional appearances next week, including a similar special on MTV, designed to publicize the release of the ''American Life'' album on April 22.