In case you were wondering, no, the recent melding of the entertainment biz and the political climate in the United States is not the twisted reality of some strangely bizarre dimension. But the fact remains that, yes, two (count them, two) governors elected in the past few years both starred in the theatrical masterpiece Predator.
With the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger on Oct. 7, he joined Jesse Ventura (that’s Jesse “The Body” to you) as the second actor from the aforementioned alien flick to govern one of the 50 states — California and Minnesota, respectively.
That’s right, the world is coming to an end. And it’s because this country’s citizens are misplacing their celebrity obsessions with votes at the ballot box instead of with subscrpitions to People.
The laundry list of celebrity politicians include: Congressmen Sonny Bono, who was also mayor of Palm Springs; Fred “Gopher” Grandy, of Love Boat fame, who held office in Iowa; Law & Order’s Fred Thompson, who was senator of Tennessee and, of course, Ventura and the newly crowned Schwarzenegger.
Even Carmel, Cali., got into the mix, electing Clint Eastwood mayor from 1986-88.
The most pressing of the bulging sack of questions automatically raised when a celebrity decides to get “all political” on the American public is: do they know what they’re doing?
Aside from the most successful political celebrity Ronald Reagan (aka “The Gipper”) — successful for the office he held, not for what he managed to louse up while in it — stars playing politics have scored highs and lows in the political realm.
Bono is said to have erased Palm Springs’ $2.5 million deficit as mayor, and, when he went on to serve as congressman, helped create new trade and environmental laws.
Fellow congressman Grandy served Iowa from 1986-95, and while he actively dealt with issues such as farm aid and health care, his stubborn ways caused him to lose favor amongst his fellow Republicans.
Tennessee’s former Senator Thompson, who graced the silver screen in Days of Thunder and Cape Fear, was as quiet as a mouse compared to Al Gore, the previous holder of that Senate seat.
And in Ventura’s case, the former pro wrestler and Schwarzenegger’s one-time co-star promised tax cuts, more educational spending and erasure of Minnesota’s budget deficit. It looked good right after his election, but by the end of his term, fellow politicians were attacking his tax cuts and education dollars while Minnesota spiraled further into debt.
So, now it’s all eyes on “Ah-nold.” After a campaign riddled with controversy, the Terminator won the infamous California recall election. It would seem that Schwarzenegger is getting in over his head; the action hero has never really made his political goals very clear or concise. However, he has just begun to buddy with President “Dubya” Bush. What happens when political minds like these get together?
Terminator 4: Arnold in Iraq.
Moreover, Schwarzenegger has already run into enough scandals to fill an entire term. Admiration for Hitler and sexual misconduct toward women — what’s he going to do for an encore, liquefy Californians who have unpaid parking tickets?
It can be argued that some of this bunch has done (or plan to do, Mr. Terminator) as commendable a job, relatively speaking, as any “real” politician could’ve. Then again, our country has enough problems dealing with the regular lot of phonies making fraudulent careers by “representing” our country. If you just can’t get enough of Dirty Harry or Gopher, pick them up at your local entertainment retailer; don’t make them your political representatives.
Nick Margiasso is scene’s Entertainment Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org