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Top Six Reasons Why Fake Politics Are More Fun Than The Real Thing

Mayor_QuimbyYou know what's fun? Here's a hint: it doesn't involve two solid weeks of wall-to-wall political TV advertising. If you live within the broadcast radius of Massachusetts, that's the reality you've been living with for most of 2010... and it sucks big-time. No matter which side of the fence you sit on - or how you feel about the election itself - there's little doubt you're well-past sick of being exposed so relentlessly to attack ads, other attack ads, slightly different attack ads, attack ads produced and paid for by special interest groups, attack ads produced and paid for by political action committees... like I said: it sucks big-time. In fact, it's enough to make you think back wistfully to times gone by — those halcyon days of 2009 when politics meant potential fun TV/movie viewing, and not actual political hackery. Remember those times? It feels like so long ago... <insert segue-to-montage-sequence wavy lines here>

1. Mayor Joe Quimby
It's only appropriate that we start with a discussion of the good mayor himself, as he's not only a 20-term mayor of Springfield but also a terrifyingly fictionalized-yet-believably corrupt interpretation of Teddy Kennedy, whose death last year was the catalyst that sparked this entire Massachusetts political conflagration. What can you say about Quimby that hasn't already been said by 10,000 Simpsons nerds online? He's a mayor-for-life with an abiding predilection for porn, mob money, impregnating women he's not married to, fraud, murder, overseas political junkets, embezzlement and, apparently, abject indifference to the constituency that elected him. In other words, he's precisely the kind of politician we can't get enough of. Why? For the same reason Buddy Cianci kept getting elected in neighboring Rhode Island: because he's fun.

2. Senator Jay Bullington Bullworth
Any movie that can overcome the cringe-inducing spectacle of Warren Beatty rapping is either extremely dangerous or far too entertaining for its own good. Possibly both. Why? Because it's got everything you could possibly want in a story involving politics — namely, the Baskin-Robbins of scandal: sex, drugs, public drunkenness, assassination attempts, suicidal ideation, socialized medicine... the full 31 flavors. And by god, it's a good time. In a way, it's kind of funny, because nobody really talks much about Warren Beatty these days — but if you put Bulworth together with Bugsy and Heaven Can Wait, you've got yourself a triple feature that offers everything you want on-screen: great dialogue, characters who feel like real, believable people, plots that grab you and bring you along for a great ride, and the indelible feeling afterwards that you've actually had a good time. My point being? We could probably use some more Warren Beatty movies.

3. President Alan Richmond
Say it with me now: Gene Hackman as an evil president? Damn, that's good fun. And in Absolute Power - one of Clint Eastwood's many, many, many fine films as an actor/director - that's exactly what we get: absolute power corrupting absolutely, in which Gene's Prez Richmond screws around on his wife, gets pissed off at his mistress, apparently strangles her to death (while Clint watches, just to add to the knee-deep kink factor), approves a cover-up of that misdeed that leaves other people dead or near-dead, and finally... well, if you haven't seen it, I won't give it away. But in the words of the greatest prison book I've ever read, it's scandalous, dawg. Them's the kind of politics I can get behind.

4. Presidents David Palmer and Charles Logan
The yin and yang of the American presidency as constructed by that bastion of American TV awesomeness 24, where in between foiling terrorist plots and threatening Kim Bauer with cougars and germ warfare and lots and lots of hoarse screaming by Keifer Sutherland we were offered visions of the very best and very worst that the United States is capable of bringing to office. On the one hand, you had the angelic and nearly too-perfect David Palmer — a ginormously charismatic Pedro Cerrano-type whose innate nobility, wisdom and shiny goodness survived undermining by a waffling, easily-cowed Cabinet, a viciously evil and conniving wife (ah, Sherry Palmer. STILL one of the greatest TV bad guys of all time.), and a deadly virus to serve as a model for all future TV presidents. Unfortunately for fake TV America, President Logan was swiftly followed by President Charles Logan — a character clearly modeled to mimic Nixon and to amplify our fears about just how deep the rot in the presidency may once have run. He's weak, which is a terrible quality in any President... but over time, we learn that weakness is only a mirage — and that's what's underneath is far, far worse. A truly hissable bad guy, and a wonderful counterpart to the too-awesometastic-to-be-true David Palmer.

5. The Floppy-Haired Prime Minister from Love, Actually
An admission: I'm a guy, and I really enjoy this movie. Go figure. What's appealing about Hugh Grant in this role has nothing to do with politics (filmmaker: "I've got an idea. Let's paint the US President as a complete bully, and then we'll surprise people by having our British PM suddenly grow a backbone 2/3 of the way through the movie and stand up to him! People will cheer because everybody hates America!") and everything to do with the idea (as swiped, if we are to give credit where credit is due, from Aaron Sorkin's The American President) of a head of state helpless before the sweeping powers of infatuation and love, just like the rest of us suckers. It's entirely charming, and to attempt to resist that charm is to resist growing a heart. It's far from healthy, and it borders on the unnatural. If there isn't some part of you that can root for a guy who becomes smitten with a very pretty girl whose greatest asset isn't her smokin' hotness but rather her warmth, character and wonderfully self-deflating sense of humor... well, chances are you'd be much better served by watching Armageddon, which is almost certainly on either TBS or TNT right now. Go ahead and watch it. Things are probably blowing up. It's awesome.Tiny_Lister

6. Galactic President Lindberg
What happens when you take Zeus from the Academy Award-winning docudrama No Holds Barred and make him the single most important elected official in the galaxy? You get President Lindberg from The Fifth Element — a head of state who can crush your skull without breaking a sweat. If that's not badass (and qualities that would define him as eminently electable in many US states, btw) I don't know what is. Even if he ultimately has to defer to bald-American Bruce Willis to save the planet (see Armageddon, as mentioned above), that does nothing to diminish his badassitude. Why? Because he's delegating. Dude has more important things to do. That's what being President is all about. You don't understand because you're not President. So there.

. . . . .
TwoBusy is weary of playing political reindeer games.

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I really can't believe President Camacho from Idiocracy didn't make the list. Dude officiated the most bizzare monster truck rally evar!

P.S., love love love Absolute Power! Glad to see it on the list!


You left out the politics in the new Battlestar Galactica. Damn, that was fun to watch. President Gaius Baltar=trainwreck.

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