HOLLYWOOD FOR UGLY PEOPLE EDITION
In this early stage of the 2016 presidential election season, most of the people tasked with covering the process are -- whether they'd like to admit it or not -- in full "fake it till you make it" mode. We pore over way-too-early head-to-head polls as if there's some sort of providence to decode. The banal process of hiring advisers and setting up campaign committees gets treated like a sacred ritual. Hey, did you hear that Scott Walker is the first candidate to open an office in Iowa? Let the fleeting significance of that sink in, won't you? Meanwhile, all the vaguely important things -- the pleas to party elites and the pitches to plutocrat patrons armed with more money than good sense -- are happening, but out of sight.
Luckily, this period ends eventually, and then things get ... well, they remain pretty quotidian, to be honest.
So it's no surprise that in America, the presidents of our cultural imaginations are almost always far more compelling than the ones we actually get. In movies and literature, our fictional leaders come possessed with the magic powers of persuasion that our most blinkered pundits naturally assume every living president should have. When they succeed, they succeed epically. When they fail, they fail extravagantly. Everyone learns an important life lesson about our republic, or everyone dies, basically.
We've imagined our president hundreds of times over by now, so this week, we've identified some of our favorite fake presidents. Many great ones were left on the cutting room floor -- sorry, President Head Of Richard Nixon from "Futurama!" We're sure you'll want to share the ones you liked the most. And to sweeten the pot of playful argument, we've laid our favorite fictitious commanders in chief alongside their real-life analogues. So have at us, everyone.
|FICTITIOUS PRESIDENT||2016 CANDIDATE|
|PRESIDENT THOMAS J. WHITMOREBill Pullman, "Independence Day"||JOE BIDENNot sure if Joe Biden can fly a fighter plane, but the man is the embodiment of a big summer blockbuster.|
|PRESIDENT BILL MITCHELLKevin Kline, "Dave"||JEB BUSHNo better description of Bush's challenge -- is the kinder imitation better than the POTUS he resembles?|
|PRESIDENT JAMES SAWYERJamie Foxx, "White House Down"||CHRIS CHRISTIEBoth would say "With the full weight, power and authority of my office, f*** you."|
|PRESIDENT ANDREW SHEPHERDMichael Douglas, "The American President"||HILLARY CLINTONThe earnest liberal dealing with family issues and fractious staff.|
|PRESIDENT FRANK UNDERWOODKevin Spacey, "House of Cards"||TED CRUZ Another brilliant man you wouldn't want to find yourself alone with on the Metro platform.|
|PRESIDENT TOM DOBBSRobin Williams, "Man of the Year"||MIKE HUCKABEEComedian who accidentally becomes president.|
|PRESIDENT MACKENZIE ALLENGeena Davis, "Commander in Chief"||JON HUNTSMAN JR.Like the Huntsman campaign, when you ask a room full of people if they remember MacKenzie Allen, nobody can.|
|PRESIDENT MERKIN MUFFLEYPeter Sellers, "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"||MARTIN O'MALLEYWe can just hear Commander in Chief O'Malley saying "You can't fight in here. This is the war room."|
|PRESIDENT FITZGERALD GRANTTony Goldwyn, "Scandal"||RAND PAULGood-looking candidate who's not as ripped, but has the same hair and daddy issues.|
|PRESIDENT DWAYNE ELIZONDO MOUNTAIN DEW HERBERT CAMACHOTerry Crews, "Idiocracy"||RICK PERRYPerry recently said Texas is crazy, perhaps even Brawndo crazy.|
|U.S. PRESIDENTBilly Bob Thornton, "Love Actually"||DONALD TRUMPClueless and creepy.|
|PRESIDENT JOHNNY GENTLE"Infinite Jest"||SCOTT WALKERKoch Bros kid-protégé would be just the sort of person to turn New England into a toxic waste dump and force it on Canada.|
|PRESIDENT JOSIAH (JED) BARTLETMartin Sheen, "The West Wing"||ELIZABETH WARRENAn Aaron Sorkin fever-dream made flesh. Perhaps too earnest for words, but there are lots of words.|
|PRESIDENT JAMES MARSHALLHarrison Ford, "Air Force One"||JIM WEBBFormer Marine and the only candidate we can imagine tossing someone out of the cargo bay of Air Force One single-handedly with his stoic demeanor.|
Photos: Getty, Associated Press, Everett Collection