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Jewish World Review August 24, 2000 / 23 Menachem-Av, 5760

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg
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Consumer Reports

Candidates' choice of movies shows refreshing honesty -- I LOVE MOVIES. I'm also a political junkie - it comes with the job. But I hate it when movies and politics overlap. It's like loving pork chops and ice cream - I just don't love them together.

For example, in 1996 when Bob Dole was forced to find a movie he liked, he went to see "Independence Day." Summarizing why it was a Republican movie, he said, "We won in the end. Leadership. America. Good over evil." I still cringe when I think about that.

Many of my fellow conservatives have a terrible tendency of scoring movies like Soviet censors: "Does it affirm family values?" "What does it say about gays?" etc. The left is much worse about this sort of thing. But I expect it from them. They actually believe politics should infect everything, from the books you read, to the car you drive, to the pizza you order. Conservatives are supposed to believe that politics shouldn't intrude very far into peoples' lives.

Even though I hate mixing politics and movies, I just found out what Al Gore's and George W. Bush's favorite movies are, and I just can't resist commenting on it.

According to The New York Times, the vice president's favorite movie in years is "Being John Malkovich," which, interestingly enough, was directed by Spike Jonze. Jonze was also the director of Al Gore's get-to-know-him video at the Democratic Convention, which some people jokingly called "Being Al Gore."

Gore's choice of films and filmmakers is interesting. The vice president's biggest political handicap is his personality. It's not just that he talks like a Speak & Spell (a computer-voiced reading tutor from my youth), he says strange things ("A zebra does not change its spots") and reinvents himself constantly. The Bush campaign even issues press releases every time Gore tries on a new persona. When Gore was trying to be "an average Joe raised on a farm" they called that "Gore 1.0." At last count, "Gores" went up to version 6.0, ending with "positive Al."

Which gets us to the pertinent question, why would he tell people his favorite movie is the enjoyably weird "Being John Malkovich"?

For those of you who didn't see it, the movie's about how there's a portal through which people can trespass in order to "take over" the real-life John Malkovich's body for limited periods of time. Whenever a stranger inhabits Malkovich's brain they can make him do whatever they want.

Such a portal into the vice president's brain would indeed explain a lot. For example, Gore has said that he has dedicated much of his career to fighting tobacco. But he also has said that he was proud that he had grown tobacco and he took money from tobacco companies, too.

This makes sense if two - or more - different people said it while inhabiting the Gore vessel. Indeed, most of his wacky exaggerations could be true if, for example, the Pentagon scientist who did invent the Internet was in his head at the time.

Now, for George W. Bush. It turns out that the last movie he enjoyed, according to Time, was "Forrest Gump." As we all remember, Gump was about a compassionately conservative idiot who stumbles through life always coming out ahead because of good luck.

Now, for a guy who fell over backward into the oil business, as well as the ownership of a major league baseball team, and who has a reputation for being not up to snuff intellectually, this is an inconvenient admission. The two even sound alike. "I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is," Gump explained in the film, sounding a bit like Bush on the stump.

Now, I don't believe that Gore has a portal into his brain, and I don't believe that Bush isn't smart enough to be a good president. In fact, I assume that these movies are their favorites purely by coincidence.

What's interesting and refreshing is that they were both honest about it. Remember our current president took a poll to see where he should go on vacation. The fact that these guys are willing to make such exploitable confessions may be a sign that politics is once again becoming a narrow part of peoples' lives.

To comment on JWR contributor Jonah Goldberg's column click here.


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08/17/00: AlGore is doomed, but Dems ignore warning signs
08/15/00: Proud and true: He's a Jew
08/10/00: Exploiting religion would be tragic mistake
08/08/00: Cheney serves up tempting appetizer
08/03/00: Republicans now 'nice,' media still nasty
08/01/00: Presidential campaign could use some anti-metric mania
07/27/00: Government shouldn't subsidize Reform Party
07/25/00: Campaign finance 'reform' gives too much power to liberal media
07/20/00: Hillary slur speaks volumes
07/18/00: AlGore's McCarthyism
07/11/00: 'Survivor' shows hypocrisy of animal rights groups
07/05/00: McDonald's deserves a break today
07/03/00: On July Fourth, time to reflect on America's founding
06/28/00: America bashing becomes international pastime
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06/06/00: NAPSTER exposes artists' hypocrisy
04/18/00: Not much difference between TV journalists, TV actors

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