"Nuke 'em. Nuke the bastards"

So said Bill Pullman in "Independence Day." But what would he say at the State of the Union?

By Anthony York
Published August 14, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)
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"There is a certain knowledge going into this that people will laugh at it." These prophetic words were uttered by Norman Lear Friday about the possible presidential candidacy of his Hollywood pal Warren Beatty. Though Beatty has buzzed behind the scene of Democratic politics for decades, it is hard not to draw some connection between his most recent movie role -- as a decayed senator who throws caution to the winds and speaks his mind -- and his current flirtation with a run for the real White House.

Stranger things have happened. When another California actor considered a political bid many years ago, a Hollywood mogul famously remarked, "Ronald Reagan for governor? No. Spencer Tracy for governor. Ronald Reagan for best friend." You can almost see Beatty as president. The real question is whether Warren Beatty could play a president. In this arena he has some stiff competition. As this subjective ranking of presidential movie roles below shows, Morgan Freeman is the man to beat.


17. Michael Douglas -- "The American President" (1995)

16. Gene Hackman --
"Absolute Power"

15. William Atherton -- "Executive Power" (1997)

14. Bill Pullman --
"Independence Day"

13. Gary Sinise -- "Truman" -- (1995)

12. Kevin Kline -- "Dave" -- (1993)

11. Nick Nolte -- "Jefferson in Paris" (1995)

10. Anthony Hopkins* -- "Nixon" (1995)

9. Donald Pleasence -- "Escape from New York" (1981)

8. Charlton Heston -- "The President's Lady" (1953).

7. John Travolta -- "Primary Colors" (1998)

6. Harrison Ford --
"Air Force One"

5. Alan Alda -- "Canadian Bacon" (1995)

4. Jack Nicholson -- "Mars Attacks" (1996)

3. William Windom -- "Escape from Planet of the Apes" (1971)

2. Peter Sellers ** -- "Dr. Strangelove" (1964)

1. Morgan Freeman --
"Deep Impact"

* -- Hopkins is Welsh. He would need a constitutional amendment to run.

** -- Sellers is dead. If drafted he would not run, if elected he would not serve.

Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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