Just a little thing I was thinking about after learning that Jack Ryan becomes the president eventually in those Tom Clancy books. Who is your favorite fictional president? I bet you can guess mine.
10. Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho – Idiocracy
Here is a president who we can all admire. President Camacho cares about the people. He wants everyone to have a good time. He also thinks plants should be watered with Gatorade. Maybe he’s not a super genius, but he lives in a world where no one is smart. He gets by on charisma and his idea that everything should be fun. That’s pretty cool. Hell, if we lived in the Idiocracy universe, I’d vote for the guy.
9. Gaius Baltar – Battlestar Galactica
Gaius Baltar was partly responsible for most of humanity dying in a horrific attack by evil robots. While it wasn’t directly his fault, he did a great job of self-preservation that continued to put good people in danger. Plus he takes orders from a woman who only exists in his head. But that didn’t stop him from saying whatever the people wanted to hear and getting elected. What did he do with his presidency? It looks like he mainly slept with beautiful women, then surrendered to the Cylons. That’s pretty pathetic, but kind of awesome too, don’t you think?
8. James Dale – Mars Attacks!
President Dale had no real effect on the events of Mars Attacks! – he mainly just delivered jokes. Which was fine with me, since most of them were pretty funny. Jack Nicholson makes for a pretty good president, especially in a world as crazy as the one in this movie. I love his portrayal of a man who is mostly just a politician, not the idealistic leader we get with most fictional presidents. Plus, he delivers on a promise the Simpsons made of showing us the president impaled by a flag.
7. Tom Beck – Deep Impact
So there’s this asteroid headed for the earth. It’s going to kill everybody, except for the select few who get to stay in a special shelter. Everyone else gets to die in a terrible firestorm. It takes quite the president to make that seem noble, and fortunately President Beck was that guy. His speech at the end of Deep Impact was sombre and yet rousing, reflective and optimistic. Plus he paved the way for future great African American presidents.
6. Dave Kovic – Dave
When President Bill Mitchell has a stroke, it falls to Dave Kovic, who runs an employment agency and works on the side as a Mitchell-lookalike, to run the country. Dave flounders at first, but then single-handedly balances the national budget, vastly improves his popularity with voters and even reinvigorates his romance with the First Lady. It’s these kind of down-to-earth values and fiscal responsibility that most Americans look for in a president, and proof why we’d never actually get one like him.
5. Andrew Shepherd – The American President
President Shepherd is kind of the prototype for Jed Bartlet, in that he is a popular, liberal president who must deal with a conservative congress. In the beginning of the film, Shepherd is a widower and clearly has lost the drive that got him elected in the first place. Thanks to falling in love, however, by the end of the movie he is delivering terrific speeches and leading the country in the direction everyone wants it to go. I think the “least presidential thing I’ve ever done” speech is what clenches it for me.
4. Thomas J. Whitmore – Independence Day
When you think about it, Whitmore was kind of a shitty president. He didn’t seem to really know what was going on, nor did he take the right advice when he should have. He didn’t even know Area 51 existed, the fool! Then, when the country needed his leadership most, he stepped up and gave a rousing speech about how Independence Day was now an international holiday. Then he hopped in a plane and lead the charge himself. How about that?
3. James Marshall – Air Force One
Now here is a president whose administration we know nothing about. We don’t need to know anything about it, either. All we need to know is that in a world full of pathetic, sniveling bureaucrats, President Marshall is a guy who takes things into his own hands. Instead of escaping Air Force One when it is taken over by terrorists, this guy jettisons the pod and starts taking out terrorists one at a time. “Get off my plane,” he says. That’s right up there with “Ask not what you can do for country…”
2. David Palmer – 24
We don’t really know that much about the Palmer presidency. We know he was very popular and the first African American elected to that office. But what his domestic policies were like is anyone’s guess. What we do know is that the man was an amazing decision maker and extremely capable under pressure. He became the go-to guy for dealing with terrorism in the United States. With Palmer calling the shots and Jack Bauer on the front lines, America was never safer. In fact, Palmer was such a beloved TV president, some people attribute part of President Obama’s success to the character.
1. Josiah Bartlet – The West Wing
The West Wing gave us two full terms of Bartlet, and man, I wish we could have given that guy a third one. Bartlet is liberal, but he is also deeply religious and resolute. He didn’t serve in the military, but he capably uses force when necessary. He is among the most intelligent and eloquent characters I’ve ever seen. In eight seasons, he reinvigorated the Supreme Court, made peace in the Middle East, helped make college more affordable and raised the level of political discourse. Jed Bartlet is the real deal, I mean, he can even speak Latin! Four more years!