CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Harvey Milk said politics is like theater. This year, he couldn’t be more right.
With the Republican Convention in town, and pundits drawing lines in the sand, it’s time to take a look back at the Top 5 TV/Movie Presidents of all time. This is not a list of portrayals of actual presidents. This list is of those completely made up, with their own histories and story lines.
Out of fun though my top five portrayals of former presidents in order are: Daniel Day-Lewis (Abraham Lincoln), Phil Hartman (Bill Clinton), Greg Kinnear (JFK), Paul Giamatti (John Adams), Bryan Cranston (LBJ). I know Cranston’s project just came out a couple of months ago, but his portrayal is THAT good.
Presented for your ridicule are my Top 5 TV/Movie Presidents:
5. ANDREW SHEPHERD – THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT (1996): There’s something about a love story from the 90’s that are so much better than the ones today – probably because they used real actors like Tom Hanks and Michael Douglas than the hollow boxes you see today. Douglas, who plays Andrew Shepherd, is going from a waltz to the White House to shrewd father-figure in saving his presidency over a lobbyist girlfriend in a rom-com drama that I will always stop to watch if it’s on.
Shepherd proves to be a strong president and this speech where he goes after his political rival Bob Rumson, who was challenging his re-election bid, in defense of his girlfriend Sydney Ellen Wade still resonates today considering the current political climate in our country.
4. DAVID PALMER – 24 (FOX): There’s two things that I’ll admit here: No. 1. Part of this is because I was only in on 24 for one season. There’s only so many bad days one guy can have. So to you, he might be too high or too low on this list because I didn’t actually see Palmer as President. 2. Part of this is because Dennis Haysbert was Pedro Cerrano, and that’s clouded my judgement.
Palmer is just the best type of guy. He’s a true American hero. Like a lot of presidents, he makes decisions he’ll be hated for, and cheats on his wife. BUT, he does want only what’s good for the country, and the cheating part, well we’ve all lived through a real president. Other than that, he has a heart of gold. Except for the infidelity (that you’re able to eventually forgive in that first season, and I hear you later end up hating his ex-wife anyway), you have fewer questions about his character than Jack Bauer. He’s just a great guy.
3. DAVE KOVIC (BILL MITCHELL) – DAVE (1993): He’s not just one of my favorite presidents, this is one of my favorite movies. Dave is a great character who steps into shoes to do something we dream of. When I was a kid I loved the part when Dave, played by Kevin Kline, is trying out the robot arms and says, “I once caught a fish THIS big.” I saw it again recently on TV, and it holds up great to time. Dave, who is an impressionist, is hired to stand-in for the actual president (Bill Mitchell) at a political event but is forced to hang around much longer than planned because Mitchell took ill. Sigourney Weaver, who plays Mitchell’s wife Ellen, goes from believing Dave is a major league bastard (her real husband) to the man she thought she married. Of course, I think differently now that I’m grown up, but my mind can’t help but wonder how much therapy Ellen (Weaver) needed when she inevitably began to date Dave at the end of the movie, but was dating a man who was a bizarro-world replica of her late husband.
2. FRANK UNDERWOOD – HOUSE OF CARDS (Netflix): We should hate Frank Underwood’s guts, but secretly, we want to be him. For the love of God, he tosses a woman in front of a commuter train, and all I could think about was how he could get away with it, while shutting Lucas up. There are two subconscious feelings that we have about Underwood: Yes, we do want to be him, and yes, deep down we probably feel that this is how the White House might have been won, and how politics is in real life.
As you watch through the seasons, you become Underwood as Kevin Spacey breaks the fourth-wall and takes you through his journey of absolute power at any cost. Robin Wright as Clair Underwood becomes a downright scary figure that as seasons progress, could be put right up there with Hannibal Lector. The more you watch, the more you’re hooked, the more people you want Underwood to snuff-out, the more power you want uhhhhhhh I mean, the more power Frank wants. And the more you watch, the more you realize that you could be in too deep, because Underwood could very well be the devil himself.
1. JAMES MARSHALL – AIR FORCE ONE (1997): Hands down, by miles, the number one fictitious president from television or movies is Harrison Ford as James Marshall in one of the best action movies of all time.
Marshall is the type of president and Air Force One is the type of movie that makes people nostalgic. He’s a medal of honor recipient, and war hero. He’s a family man. He’s built of something better than regular men. The movie features the Russians as an enemy because it was made during a time where the Russians were the only scary enemies that we could think of. The only negative about this movie are the special effects at the end (which were cutting edge for 1997, so you learn to deal with it because the movie is so good) and that President Marshall is a Michigan fan and no doubt loathes Ohio State. BUUUUTTT he has to be THAT good a man, because it’s very difficult to win the presidency without winning Ohio, and you have to be that good to get Ohio State fans to vote for a Michigan man.
Now, “get off my plane.”