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My Favorite Presidents: An Election Special
by Karma Waltonen

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A column on Election Movies? Isn't that a day late?

Well, yes, but I'm writing this before Election Day and have faith that you can keep attention on the election for one more day.

Some of my faithful readers may wonder if I'm even interested in Presidents, since I'm such an Anglophile and I made you read about Kings and Queens for three columns. But I am invested in the democratic process. I deeply care about politics, so much so that my body gets horribly tense around election times. The 2000 election is probably what created this embodied interest. See, I had just moved to California from Florida, so I cast an absentee ballot. The Supreme Court basically decided some time later that my vote wouldn't be counted.

I have quite a grudge about that.

This election has high stakes. It's dividing families (well, mine. Okay, it's just me that's cut off, apparently)--my mother has even taken an innocent request for grits as a sign that she could send me a shirt with a confederate flag on it (1).

By the time you're reading this, it should be over. Our next President should be decided and some people will be thrilled and others will be rabid and still others won't care one way or the other. If the "wrong" guy gets in, I won't be able to take in any further news for a week (this is what happened in 2004, anyway).

Instead, I'll pull out my DVDs and indulge in some Presidential fantasy. Here are my picks (4, because I believe in having more than a two-party system):

1. THE
WEST WING. It's a series, not a movie, but President Bartlet caught my heart from his very first appearance on the show (they delayed it until the end of the episode), when he came into a room where people were disagreeing about what the first commandment was. Bartlet said, "I am the Lord your God--Thou shalt worship no other god before me," and I knew I wouldn't have any fantasy Presidents before him.

See it here:

2. DAVE. This sweet little movie with Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley is one of those films that I tend to watch whenever it comes on cable. Dave is an imposter and he's liberal (he likes to fund things for children instead of giving stuff to corporations), but he does seem to embody the Conservative dream of a President, too--he's a Washington outsider (though, he's arguably a community organizer, and we've learned that's bad). I would love to catch Dave sneaking a peak at my legs the way he does the first lady's.

3. AN AMERICAN PRESIDENT. Okay, it has another liberal president and the movie is another romance, but I like Michael Douglas as President
here. And I identify with Annette Bening's character as the impassioned woman who would be torn apart in the press if the spotlight were ever turned on her. My boyfriend has had thoughts of running for local government and I know my beliefs and my mouth would get him in trouble.

4. MOON OVER PARADOR. This isn't an American president and it's another imposter story. (I wonder why I like those so much—maybe my basic distrust of the actual people in government?) Richard Dreyfuss plays an actor who is "hired" to pretend to be the dictator of Parador when the leader dies. It's basically DAVE in a fake South American country, which is why I also watch it whenever it comes on T.V.

Other "election" movies you shouldn't miss:

WAG THE DOG (great satire—a little too true, though, for comfort)

BULWORTH (I would like to think that politicians could have their minds opened to the real world, but why does that mean they have to dance with their tongues out?)

THE CONTENDER (great film—it makes the point that a person's past sexual experience shouldn't matter and it says a lot about sexism in government. However, the director does make sure that the audience knows the allegations are false. I think it would have been interesting to leave the matter unsettled with us and see if we still agreed that it didn't matter.)

BOB ROBERTS (another satire that hits it a bit too well)

RECOUNT (I would find this so funny, if it didn't make me cry.)

(1) I had to tell my mother that I wouldn't wear
Which flag?  WWJD--What would Jon do?

Which flag? WWJD--What would Jon do?
a rebel flag. She thought at first that I meant I wouldn't wear it outside, for fear of ridicule, but I've always had problems with that flag. They are as follows:

1. Isn't it kind of weird to fly a flag of a defeated movement? Why would you wave that around—it reminds people that you lost. You don't see other countries/people doing that.

2. Except Nazis.

3. Which should be a creepy enough association to keep you from doing it. It should also remind you that—

4. The flag is a symbol of racism. Don't think so? Then why don't you ever see African-American Southerners wearing it? And why is it always at KKK rallies?

5. There are those who say that the flag is simply a symbol of history. Well, where I come from, so are lots of flags, like Spanish flags, etc. The confederate flag should be with the others—in museums.

6. One thing I really don't understand is that Southerners often think of themselves as the most patriotic Americans (the "real" America, to use Palin's term). Yet they are the ones who fly and wear the flag of a separatist movement—a flag that was meant to be a separation from and repudiation of America. As I see it, you can support America with its flag or you can celebrate a traitorous anti-American Confederate flag—not both.

7. The thing that really bugs me is when I see a confederate flag with the words, "The South Will Rise Again." I ask: "and do what, exactly?"

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Comedies with Dr. Karma
Every other Wednesday

Dr. Karma discusses all things comic, from the classics to what may become classics. Laugh with, but not at, her, please.

Other Columns
Other columns by Karma Waltonen:

Goodbye -- Dr. Karma

The Dictator and Dark Shadows

Pirates and Whedon Movies: In Theatres Now!

A Touch of Cult

Our Random Favorites

All Columns

Karma Waltonen
Dr. Karma is a silly, nerdy know-it-all, but in a good way. She brings all her overeducation to discuss that which truly matters: comedy. As some famous guy once said: “And if I laugh at any mortal thing, ‘tis that I may not weep.” Or something like that.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Karma Waltonen by clicking here.

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