Republican landscaping

Where the Rock meets the Shrub, the uncanny parallels between wrestler and candidate sprout like sagebrush on the Texas prairie.

By Carina Chocano
Published August 3, 2000 4:57PM (EDT)

Some people weren't happy about "the Rock" stumping for "the Shrub" at the Republican convention last night.

During his appearance, the reigning World Wrestling Federation champion (whose real name is Dwayne Johnson and who has been a registered voter since last week) encouraged the youth of America to smack down their votes for the Republicans in 2000, despite uptight protestations by the Parents Television Council, a right-wing advocacy group that champions family values.

"By giving the Rock such a prominent role at the convention," said uptight council chairman L. Brent Bozell in a statement last week, "the GOP is, in effect, saying that the values of the WWF -- violence, profanity, graphic sexuality, the demeaning of women and the promotion of racial stereotypes -- are shared by the party."

Convention planners dismissed these accusations -- mentally brushing aside Dick Cheney's House voting record on women, guns and South Africa in the '80s -- and described the wrestler's inclusion in the session as "an entertaining component to a very substantive program," "a fun addition to the program" and just plain "fun."

Major Republican brushoff notwithstanding, the WWF sees its role in the democratic process for what it is. "WWF fans are a cross section of Americana" said Linda McMahon, head of WWF Entertainment, "They are the voice of the people and they will elect the next president of the United States."

This startling statement implies that the self-described "most electrifying man in sports entertainment today" and the self-described "real Texan" may share more than a fan base and a love of fun. Could it be that the GOP's own reigning champion has more in common with the WWF hero than just a nickname inspired by the art of landscaping?

While the Rock openly refers to his fans as "trailer park trash," something the Shrub would probably never do, it seems that the Rock and the Shrub may have led lives more parallel than ever previously imagined. As Bush told Time magazine this week, "If you really want to understand someone, you look at his family and where he was raised."

The eerie facts speak for themselves.

Lives more parallel than ever previously imagined

Wrestling royalty and political royalty

Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson is a third-generation wrestler who's Samoan grandfather, Peter Maivia, was known as the "High Chief."

George Walker Bush is a third-generation politician who's father was known as the "Commander in Chief."

Johnson arrived at his professional name by combining his father's first name, Rocky, with his grandfather's last name Maivia. Soon, he was known by the snappier moniker, "the Rock."

George Walker Bush is named for his father, George Herbert Walker Bush. Soon, he hopes to be known by the statelier moniker, "the President."

A chip off the old Rocky and a twig off the old Bush

The Rock played football in high school, where his skills on the field won him a five-year scholarship. After pro stints in Miami and Canada, the Rock decided to quit football and follow in his father's footsteps. Professional wrestling was in his blood.

The Shrub attended Andover, Yale and Harvard Business School like his father, played baseball like his father, became a military pilot like his father, entered the oil business like his father, and, like his father, embarked on a political career. Following in his father's footsteps was in his blood. Challenging his father to "mano a mano" grudge matches was in his blood -- when there was a lot of alcohol in it.

Patented remarks and patently stupid remarks

As the Rock's popularity soared, he began to formulate some of the patented sayings that are his trademark, such as "Know your role and shut your mouth" and "Can you smell what the Rock is cooking?"

As the Shrub's popularity progressed, he continued to let fly the gaffes that were his father's trademarks, such as "I think we agree, the past is over" and "It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it."

The people's eyebrow and the frat boy's smirk

In what has become a signature intimidation move, the Rock lifts his right eyebrow very high while staring menacingly into the camera. This gesture is known as "the people's eyebrow."

In what has become a signature move, the Shrub lifts one corner of his mouth very high in a mocking grimace. This gesture is known as "the frat boy's smirk."

The corporate elbow and the corporate interests

The Rock's infamous finishing move is an elbow drop off the ropes, usually delivered after a "Rock Bottom" (a patented body slam). The move was originally called "the people's elbow," but has since been renamed "the corporate elbow" in solidarity with WWF owner Vince McMahon and "the Corporation," as the WWF is known.

The Shrub's infamous finishing move is a tap, delivered to the shoulder of Dick Cheney, former CEO of Halliburton Co., the world's largest oil services company. The Shrub is a former oil company executive himself, so a Reuters headline recently renamed them the "U.S. oil industry dream team" in reference to their solidarity with the U.S. oil industry.

Victory over "Mankind" and victory over mankind

The Rock laid claim to three WWF World Championships, three WWF Intercontinental Championships and three WWF Tag Team Championships after defeating Mankind (Mick Foley), Stone Cold Steve Austin and many more WWF superstars.

The Shrub, stone cold in Austin, has wasted 119 prisoners in Texas during his governorship.

Carina Chocano

Carina Chocano writes about TV for Salon. She is the author of "Do You Love Me or Am I Just Paranoid?" (Villard).

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