Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It doesn't always work out like it does in the movies

My theory on Fred Thompson's presidential run is someone wrote a screenplay about a lazy but clever fun-lovin', beer-drinkin', red pickup truck drivin', duck-huntin' Southerner who, through a series of hilarious flukes, aw-shuckses his way to the presidency. Once in office, he turns the White House lawn into a NASCAR track, roasts wild boars in the Lincoln Bedroom and commissions the surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd to rewrite the national anthem.

But when international crisis strikes, President Billy Ray pulls himself from the plastic swimming pool he has passed out in and defuses the situation like he is the second coming of George Washington. Then all the world leaders have a big drunken party at Camp David, and the stuffy chick Prime Minister of England says something naughty. Box office gold, right?

Anyway the script was supposed to be sent to Larry The Cable Guy, but instead it ended up with Fred Thompson's agent. One thing led to another and they decided to act it out for real.

So far, not so good. Fred Thompson looks too old and anemic to play the part of the good times rebel philosopher and, while he has the lazy part down, it turns out he isn't all that clever when it's not a closed set on the third take.

Still Thompson has enough experience with big-budget projects to spot a bust. Which is why, when Fox News political reporter Carl Cameron told his studio to hurry up because "the next president of the United States has a schedule to keep", Thompson deadpanned, "and so do I."

While the exchange was off-camera, it was still the best quip so far from what had promised to be a well-written campaign. Which means we should expect to see variations of this I-know-I-can't-win tact in Thompson's coming public appearances.

The reason the quip was funny is because it is true. Yet truth hasn't stopped the Chris Dodds and Duncan Hunters of the world from staring at the American public and starting sentences with the tired old "when I'm president" tripe.

It's cute when eight year olds pretend they will one day be president. Not so much when grown men with decades of political experience make believe. If Fred Thompson can finally make it safe for no-shot candidates to admit they have no shot -- and have a good laugh about it -- that script mix up at the talent agency will have been good for something after all.

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