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COUNTERPUNCH

Checking out some other actors' bona fides

August 18, 2003|Kathy and Tony Peyser | Kathy and Tony Peyser are writers who live in Studio City.

The deadline has passed for getting onto the recall ballot in the California governor's race. But Arnold Schwarzenegger's candidacy might inspire other actors with even higher aspirations to toss their hats in the ring for the 2004 presidential election, which is just around the corner.

Like Schwarzenegger, most performers seeking public office will not have, uh, held public office. Perhaps the best way to judge politically untested actors is on the roles they've played in their film and TV careers. So, in search of that always crucial short list, here are some potential candidates who have actually played commanders in chief.

Martin Sheen

Upside: Plays earnest President Bartlet in "The West Wing" and was JFK in the "Kennedy" TV movie. Served in Vietnam in "Apocalypse Now."

Downside: Was a local politician destined to become a psycho president in "The Dead Zone."

Michael Douglas

Upside: Was warm and fuzzy widower president in "The American President."

Downside: Known for gratuitous nudity in sexually charged movies such as "Fatal Attraction" and "Basic Instinct." Inhaled in "Wonder Boys."

Kevin Kline

Upside: Played frosty president and his everyman look-alike in "Dave."

Downside: Had two roles in the flop "Wild, Wild West" remake, one of which was President Ulysses S. Grant. Is now filming "De-Lovely" and playing Cole Porter. There goes the Scalia-Thomas-Santorum-Frist vote.

Chris Rock

Upside: Played the first black president in "Head of State."

Downside: "Pootie Tang" can't be dismissed as just a youthful indiscretion.

Jeff Bridges

Upside: Played a liberal president in "The Contender."

Downside: Inhaled as the Dude in "The Big Lebowski." Starred in the Watergate of big-budget movie busts ("Heaven's Gate"), which could tag him as financially irresponsible.

Randy Quaid

Upside: Played President Johnson in "LBJ: The Early Years" for TV. Also appeared on TV as white separatist Randy Weaver in "The Siege at Ruby Ridge," which could corner the militia/gun nut vote. Helped save the world in "Independence Day."

Downside: Appeared in "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," which was as reckless as Gary Hart's notorious tryst with Donna Rice.

Gary Sinise

Upside: Played President Truman in "Truman" for TV. Served in Vietnam in "Forrest Gump."

Downside: Played title role in "George Wallace" for TV.

Anthony Hopkins

Upside: Played President Nixon in "Nixon." Served in World War II in "A Bridge Too Far."

Downside: Played Hitler in "The Bunker."

Robert Duvall

Upside: Played President Eisenhower on TV in both "Ike" and "Ike: The War Years." Served in Vietnam in "Apocalypse Now."

Downside: Played Stalin in a TV movie. Right- wing bloggers obsessed with the left wing's alleged love of comrade Joe will eat that up.

Barry Bostwick

Upside: Played the father of our country twice on TV in "George Washington" and "George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation."

Downside: The sexually ambiguous "Rocky Horror Picture Show" could lose soccer mom votes in the Bible Belt. Worse yet, his co-star was Susan Sarandon, the neo-con's Tokyo Rose.

Bill Pullman

Upside: Played rugged president in "Independence Day." Served in World War II in "A League of Their Own."

Downside: Was the dumbest man who ever lived in "Ruthless People." Although ... alleged lack of intelligence didn't affect the top of the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2000.

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