It's Election Day in Houston, and as the city braces itself for the tsunami of indifference that always comes from knowing the one significant race this time around is going to end up in a runoff, we decided to take a look at some of the shadier movie politicians out there; men whose shenanigans far outweigh things like cozying up to the Latino community while adopting a hard-line ant-immigration stance (Roy Morales) or using your wife's money to try to buy an election (Peter Brown).
5. President Bennett (Donald Moffat) -- Clear and Present Danger (1994)
Jack Ryan, the last honest man in Washington, uncovers the connection between Bennett (played by that guy who kind of looks like James Cromwell) and the Colombian cartels. His decision to possibly torpedo his own career by testifying before Congress is only slightly less plausible than that scene where the 52-year-old Harrison Ford beats up a man 20 years his junior before jumping on a helicopter.
4. Senator Pat Geary (G.D. Spradlin) -- The Godfather: Part II
Times change. Vito Corleone just had to cut off a horse's head to get Jack Woltz to sign Johnny Fontane. Michael has to have a prostitute killed to get Sen. Geary to pony (heh) up the gaming license. And, of course, the only version of this scene available online is courtesy of the Godfather 2 video game.
3. President Richard M. Nixon (himself) -- All the President's Men
Truth is stranger, and -- in this case -- more exhausting than fiction. It's funny, in this era of Patriot Act wiretaps and WMDs, to look back on the Watergate break-in and see how it was almost quaint by comparison.
2. Everybody -- Z (1969)
The ending of Costa Gavras' political thriller would seem to be a happy one. The political leaders responsible for the assassination of "the Deputy" (meant to represent Greek opposition leader Gregorios Lambrakis) have been exposed and the perpetrators on the police have been jailed. Then we're reminded that, at the time of the movie's release, the right wing junta had taken over the country, released those responsible, and banned everything from the Beatles to Euripides. It would be decades before the country would be properly healed by Nia Vardalos and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
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1. Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) -- Revenge of the Sith
George Lucas handles political intrigue about as clumsily as he does romance or dialogue, and the former Senator Palpatine's revelation as the evil mastermind that's been operating behind the scenes is about as shocking as another scene where somebody gets a hand chopped off. Watching this though, I can't help thinking how much cooler it would be if real political arrests (Jim Traficant, Duke Cunningham) involved lightsabers.