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Tony Kornheiser

In an Election, Martin Sheen Would Bury the Real Candidates

October 18, 2000|Tony Kornheiser

It's one thing to put these debates between Al Gore and George W. Bush on TV as a public service for viewers who would otherwise be forced to undergo surgery without an anesthetic. But it's quite another to preempt "West Wing" to do it.

Why would anybody want to see Gore and Bush clumsily trying to act presidential, when they can see Martin Sheen elegantly succeeding?

And speaking of anesthetic, what sort of megadose was Al Gore on at the debate last Wednesday night? I can't recall such a drastic change in anyone's personality since Grateful Dead fans stopped taking drugs and realized: Jeez, this music is terrible!

In their first debate, Gore was all over Bush, hectoring him. Plus, because of his multiple layers of makeup, Gore looked so waxy that you wanted to strap him to the top of your car and yell, "Surf's up!" Obviously, Gore's handlers told him to "try to be a little less annoying--even we want to slap you." But Gore was so tame I thought Bush would give him a biscuit and pet him.

And is it just me, or does Bush always look like he's struggling to read cue cards--except there aren't any cue cards. You just know he's thinking, "Dang, I knew this stuff yesterday." I'm not saying the president always has to be the smartest guy in the room. But Bush may not even be the smartest guy in a phone booth.

Is there any doubt who would get the most votes for president in a three-way race among Gore, Bush and Sheen? Sheen would win in a landslide. What's not to like about Martin Sheen--except those two dopey sons of his, Emilio and Charlie, the Chang and Eng of schlock.

I'd also take Sheen's vice president over either Dick Cheney or Joe Lieberman. If Cheney were any more of a fat cat, he'd campaign in a window box, sunning himself. And Lieberman has taken so many new positions it's hard to tell if he's running for national office or posing for the Kamasutra. On the other hand, Sheen's vice president is Tim Matheson, who was Otter in "Animal House"! It was Otter who was comforted by Fawn Leibowitz's sorority sisters in the back seat of Flounder's car after that terrible kiln accident. It was Otter at the toga party who bagged Dean Wormer's boozy wife. That's what we need in a vice president. A frat boy who can score boss chicks.

In recent years we've had lots of actors play the president who I would vote for ahead of Gush and Bore--excuse me, Bush and Gore. The only actor who really stunk as president was Ronald Reagan.

But Sheen is the one I'd most like to see in the Oval Office. On "West Wing," he has a way of speaking from the heart, even when it's going to hurt him in the polls. Sheen doesn't lie--unlike Gore, whose October surprise is probably that he invented pumpkin pie.

In the face of criticism of his overblown claims, Gore said he'd "take responsibility for getting some of the details wrong." For example, if Gore claimed that after a hurricane he flew a relief plane to the hurricane site and cooked hot meals for folks whose homes had been devastated--and it turns out that in fact Gore stayed home watching "When Shaved Poodles Go Psycho IV" on Fox, well, Gore would take responsibility for getting "some details" wrong.

It's distressing when your choices for president are so uninspiring. Perhaps that's why, in its current issue, American Journalism Review asked a panel of respected journalists: "Which journalist would you like to see run for president?"

I won't bore you with the pathetic choices, but a genius, Ken Fuson of the Des Moines Register, said: "My pick for president is Tony Kornheiser. He writes columns. He hosts a popular sports radio show. He appears on ESPN's 'Sports Reporters' show. He can write sad. He can write funny. He can go short. He can go long. And he golfs! The future of the free world would be safe in his hands.'

Modesty forbids me to say anything other than, "Damn right."

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