It's often difficult to see a president's true legacy until someone makes a movie about them. As we get ready to learn all about Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's Oscar hopeful 'Lincoln,' it seems a fitting time to reacquaint ourselves with other presidents lucky enough to earn a cinematic treatment, so we may assess what they gave to their country and for what they will be remembered.
President Thomas J. Whitmore
Bill Pullman - 'Independence Day'
Pundits argued that President Whitmore's youth robbed him of the experience necessary to run the nation's executive branch. But when aliens invaded our world in an all-out push for complete global annihilation, Whitmore's youth and daredevil wherewithal ended up being just what we needed to repel the threat. President Thomas J. Whitmore not only fought with us, but through the death of his wife the First Lady, he suffered with us as well.
President Merkin Muffley
Peter Sellers - 'Dr. Strangelove (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)
President Merkin Muffley will most likely be remembered for his role as sitting president during a nuclear apocalypse. But his mere presence does not indicate complete culpability, and it would do this president a disservice to ignore his easy humor and good nature. While often in over his head, he kept his head all the same and never lost his ability to communicate with world leaders in a fun, casual manner.
Donald Pleasence - 'Escape from New York'
We all remember where we were back in '88 when we heard President White's plane had gone down over the old New York Penal Colony. We never thought we'd get him back again. But President White held on. Sure, he let people put wigs on him, and there's very minor evidence he was probably sexually abused during his kidnapping. But once his shackles were undone, President White went full-on mad dog on his oppressors. He may have looked weak, but this was one baldie you didn't want to mess with.
President James Marshall
Harrison Ford - 'Air Force One'
When you imagine what would happen if Air Force One were taken over by terrorists, the first thing that comes to mind is some secret escape hatch to keep the president safe. For those not old enough to remember, President James Marshal had the opportunity to take such an escape hatch when his plane was hijacked and, like any great president would, opted instead to remain onboard so he could plow through terrorist bastards like he was Steven Seagal or something. People often forget the tenacity required to win an election. Terrorists are nothing.
President Tom Beck
Morgan Freeman - 'Deep Impact'
You turn on your television to hear the president inform the country that everyone who doesn't win a very limited lottery is going to die a horrible fiery and/or watery death. That sort of thing might normally cause a panic. Luckily, when we faced this challenge, our president was none other than Tom Beck, owner of one of the smoothest, most reassuring voices in Presidential history. When President Beck told you you were going to die, it was not a death sentence, but a gift.
Tommy %22Tiny%22 Lister, Jr. - 'The Fifth Element'
When you're a massive, bald man who spends every waking moment half crossed-eyed, you tend to get what you want. Such will be the case with President Lindberg. Faced with a big ball of evil intent on destroying all life, Lindberg will do what all great presidents do: Hire loose cannon renegade ex-cops like Bruce Willis and team them up with highly annoying radio personalities. Yes, in the future there will still be radio shows.
President Tug Benson
Lloyd Bridges - 'Hot Shots: Part Deux'
Sometimes a president has to get his hands dirty. President Tug Benson knew this full well. Even when his action man Topper Harley already had Saddam Hussein more or less beaten, President Benson showed up and personally relieved him from the fight.
President Benson may have lacked a brain, but he had gumption. The man utterly destroyed Hussein, not only freezing him with a fire extinguisher, but exploding the resulting icicle into a million pieces. Do you want a president who sends soldiers to their deaths without a second thought, or do you want someone who's not afraid to get in the ring himself?
President James Dale
Jack Nicholson - 'Mars Attacks!'
Presidents must often face un-winnable scenarios, and a surprising number of these un-winnable situations prove actually un-winnable. Sometimes these presidents display their greatest poise and strength not by how they fight these wars but by how they accept defeat.
James Dale was not one of these presidents. During one of America's sillier but no less violent alien occupations, President Dale simply could not get a footing on how to attack these big brained Martians. In the end, he was taken out with a mere prank handshake after agreeing to a joke truce. A tragic end for a good man simply out of his league.
Dave Kovic (As President Bill Mitchell)
Kevin Kline - 'Dave'
Dave Kovic was not elected president but ended up supplying the country with a better one then the worthless fool they voted for. We're not supposed to know this, but when President Bill Mitchell had a stroke, his recovery was not as speedy as everyone said. White House officials actually hired Dave Kovic to pose as the president. But instead of just playing the fool, Dave actually helped out some orphans and outed Washington corruption while he was at it. He even gave the First Lady an orgasm (allegedly) for the first time in forever. A true American hero.
President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho
Terry Crews - 'Idiocracy'
With IQs dwindling faster than ever, we may be in for a less than stellar future. But at least we'll have a super kick-ass president. With is beautiful long hair, massive physique, and take no guff attitude, President Camacho certainly stands among our greatest leaders, so long as we don't adjust for intellectual deflation. He will display knowledge enough to at least hire the smartest man alive while everyone else just makes fun of him for the weird way he talks, resulting in a resurgence of agriculture. Sometimes that's all it takes to get your name in the history books.