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Sweatpants & Sanity | Fantasy Break: Fictional Presidents of Film

By Emily Parker

Whether you love or hate whoever is currently running the country, leaders of film have always captured the public imagination, for better or worse. What nobody can argue is that the political climate is nearly always divided, so let’s take a moment today to fantasize about what it would be like if one of our favorite fictional presidents ran the country. Enjoy, and vote for your favorite in our poll!

Dave Kovic, Dave, 1993 – The Pro-Jobs President

Played by Kevin Kline, Dave Kovic as a good-hearted everyman president was thrust into his role as a stunt double of sorts when the real president suffered a stroke and the administration wished to hide this fact from the public. What Dave didn’t bargain for was actually being able to make a difference! With the help of his grumpy BFF (played by Charles Grodin), Dave becomes a true president of the people when he bucks his advisors and reworks the federal budget in order to save homeless children and create thousands of jobs.

Best line: “If you’ve ever seen the look on somebody’s face the day they finally get a job, I’ve had some experience with this, they look like they could fly. And its not about the paycheck, it’s about respect, it’s about looking in the mirror and knowing that you’ve done something valuable with your day. And if one person could start to feel this way, and then another person, and then another person, soon all these other problems may not seem so impossible. You don’t really know how much you can do, until you stand up and decide to try.”

Andrew Shepherd, The American President, 1995 – The Pro-Civil Rights President

Played by Michael Douglas, Andrew Shepherd is a generally well-liked (if slightly ineffectual and stagnating) president who is running for a second term against a man whose bluster has captured the attention of the public (Richard Dreyfuss.) As he finds himself falling in love with a pretty lobbyist (Annette Bening), Shepherd rediscovers the strength of conviction that made him the leader that he was before he lost his beloved wife to cancer.

Best line: “For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being president of this country was, to a certain extent, about character, and although I have not been willing to engage in his attacks on me, I’ve been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation: Being president of this country is entirely about character. For the record: yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU. But the more important question is why aren’t you, Bob? Now, this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights, so it naturally begs the question: Why would a senator, his party’s most powerful spokesman and a candidate for President, choose to reject upholding the Constitution?”

(Seriously, that’s a great speech. Read the rest here.)

Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, Idiocracy, 2006 – The Pro-Burrito President

In a not-too-far-fetched dystopian future, President Camacho (Terry Crews) presides over an anarchic, dumbed-down version of America that is the result of generations of stupid people breeding in droves, and the glorification of idiocy and suppression of culture. Camacho is a bombastic ex-pro wrestler who ultimately has a good heart and wants the best for the country, even if he has no clue how to provide it. Enter average Joe Bauers (“Not Sure”), an unassuming soldier from our current time, who has woken up in the new America from a cryogenic experiment and is now the smartest man on the planet (Luke Wilson.) It is a hallmark of great leaders everywhere that President Camacho has no issues asking someone smarter than himself for advice.

Best line: “Shit. I know shit’s bad right now, with all that starving bullshit, and the dust storms, and we are running out of french fries and burrito coverings. But I got a solution. Now I understand everyone’s shit’s emotional right now. But I’ve got a 3 point plan that’s going to fix EVERYTHING. Number 1: We’ve got this guy Not Sure. Number 2: He’s got a higher IQ than ANY MAN ALIVE. and Number 3: He’s going to fix EVERYTHING.”

Thomas J. Whitmore, Independence Day, 1996 – The Pro-Not Getting Murdered By Aliens President

When aliens invade, President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) is forced to team up with a man he dislikes (Jeff Goldblum) and a swaggering U.S. soldier (Will Smith), in order to formulate a plan to thwart the destruction of the entire planet. As the whole world rallies together to halt the invasion, Whitmore basically brokers world peace, as he even dons his pilot’s uniform to fly alongside the U.S. military forces tasked with carrying out the outrageous plan. The president bravely fights through his anguish over how much the government has hidden from him with regard to the existence of aliens and steps up to the plate. Plus, the man gives a hell of a speech.

Best line: “In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. “Mankind.” That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night!” We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”

James Marshall, Air Force One, 1997 – The Pro-Kicking The Asses of Terrorists President

When President Marshall and all-around badass (Harrison Ford) gives a zero tolerance speech in Moscow about terrorism, Air Force One is hijacked by Russian terrorists on his way home. They take the first lady and first daughter hostage along with the others, and promise to execute a hostage every half hour until their demands are met. Little do they know, President Marshall is an ex-soldier who has a few tricks up his sleeve. The president must work from hiding in order to save his family and the hostages, even as he must decide whether to negotiate with the terrorists to broker their safety, or stick to his zero tolerance policy and simply kick their asses.

Best line: “Let’s speak the truth. And the truth is, we acted too late. Only when our own national security was threatened did we act. Radek’s regime murdered over 200,000 men, women, and children, and we watched it on TV. We let it happen. People were being slaughtered for over a year and we issued economic sanctions and hid behind the rhetoric of diplomacy. How dare we? The dead remember. Real peace is not just the absence of conflict, it’s the presence of justice. And tonight I come to you with a pledge to change America’s policy. Never again will I allow our political self-interest to deter us from doing what we know to be morally right. Atrocity and terror are not political weapons and to those who would use them: your day is over. We will never negotiate. We will no longer tolerate, and we will no longer be afraid. It’s your turn to be afraid.”

Emily Parker is a musician, writer, and avid reader who started Bucket List Book Reviews, the ‘1,001 Books to Read Before You Die’ project. For Sweatpants & Coffee, Emily hopes to inspire the reading of the classics by a whole new audience by only reviewing the really good stuff.

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