I thought I'd bought a ticket to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
So why, sitting there with my popcorn and my blue Icee, did I get the feeling I'd walked into some allegory about the Bush administration?
The resemblance between the White House and the Ministry of Magic of this film was unsettling --- from star chamber-type inquiries to a takeover of Hogwarts School, where the Ministry's senior undersecretary becomes the new Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor. She teaches strictly to the test and the text, and as for the tests themselves, the OWLS exams -- well, let's just call them the No Wizard Left Behind tests.
The Harry Potter books have been sliced and diced six ways from Christmas, and the online speculation about J.K. Rowling's politics runs from the libertarian to the totalitarian.
Whatever Rowling's politics, her job description for this Dark Arts teacher here could have gotten Dick Cheney hired for the post. Once the Dark Arts instructor is promoted to Hogwarts headmistress, she posts so many ''thou shalt not'' ukases that she runs out of wall space. She despises disloyalty, and to ferret it out, she enlists spies -- so much for loyalty. She inflicts corporal punishment that wouldn't pass muster with the Geneva Convention, and tries to use an illegal curse to squeeze Harry Potter for information.
This character's name? Dolores Umbridge -- a name that conveys ''sorrows'' and ''anger.'' With the last Potter book landing in stores this week, she'll probably be out looking for work. I know just the administration that might have a spot for her for her ...