10/04/2010 06:10 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Barack on Local TV in 2001 (VIDEO): Reviewing Restaurant, Bewitching Audience

This video is magic. It's a previously lost episode of "Check, Please!" a show on Chicago's PBS affiliate from 2001. A host and three regular people chat about a restaurant. One of those regular people is a young politician named Barack Obama who hasn't changed one iota.

The camera falls in love. TV is a charisma contest, and Barack next to mere mortals is like Michael Jordan in a YMCA pick-up game. The best part of the video isn't Barack though, it's the other people's reactions.

He absolutely mesmerizes them. Look at the woman's face at 4:43, or the guy's at 5:18, or both of them at 6:17. You can hear them thinking, "Wow, I can't believe how great it is to hear this guy talk about a totally unremarkable restaurant. I want Change."

I love me some Barry and have since day one. I'm not typically skeptical of his motives, but it's pretty obvious that he already had his eyes on the prize. Highly aware of his coastal elite status, he picks a down-home southern restaurant and praises its unpretentiousness. He tells you he feels your pain, and the Dixie Kitchen won't hurt your wallet. Plus, you don't say, "I want to see our small business owners succeeding out there," if you haven't imagined yourself in the Oval Office.

This doesn't mean that Barack has been a climbing fraud for at least a decade. He was just born to be the president, and that's OK. He sympathizes, synthesizes, and charms -- those are the skills his job requires. If Barack's preternaturally presidential demeanor gives you the creeps, that's OK too. But be honest: Could you, or Sarah Palin, do a better job talking down Kim Jong-il?

Michelle is the real question mark of the video. How does she fight obesity, and maintain those arms, while taking her husband's dessert recommendations?

*I'd like to thank Chicago native and film authority Daniel Hymanson for showing me this lost episode.

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