MAD AS HELL: Ye Olde GOP Presidential Players 

The hallmark of this president will undoubtably be the Iraq war; however the influence of Karl Rove with his powerful Svengali job as casting agent and director for the George W. Bush Show will loom large. Over the last six years, America has been a willing participant in a reality show created by Republicans called Let's Pretend. Thematically, this is the message: "I will pretend to tell you the truth, if you will pretend to believe it."

When it comes to acting, Dubya is a rookie, but you've got to hand it to him ---- the guy is one hell of a performer. After all, it can't be easy playing Goober Pyle, Howdy Doody, and Forrest Gump simultaneously. Until now, the sunny performances by Ronald Reagan on the show I'm Not a President but I Play One on TV have ranked tops among Republicans, but the acting skills of George the Forty-Third have put old Ronnie to shame.

Cheney, Condi, and Rummy, the co-producers of this mendacious melange, have a flair for the dramatic as well. Their formula has been brilliant: Take Lost in Space, cross it with some Green Acres, and lace it with just the right amounts of Combat and Rawhide to create a new version of Groundhog Day. What a masterful stroke of genius it was to make the media part of the cast. When it came to the thespian talents of the working stiffs at the networks and 24 -hour cable channels, who knew?

Stage doors will soon be shutting for our Witless Wonder but those amusement loving Republicans have nothing to fear - Fred Thompson is waiting in the wings. Thompson, a bona fide B- lister in Hollywood rolled out his candidacy this week by keeping all the razzle-dazzle so cherished by his party. Not one to disappoint, Ready Freddy kicked off his campaign on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

The role of Candidate is a reprise of one of Thompson's earlier portrayals, but in case you missed it, this is the synopsis: Southern Lawyer turned Washington Senator/actor/lobbyist drawls his way through America using warmed-over Reagan anecdotes to tout Dixie-fried conservative values. Folksy speeches that don't really say anything but are punctuated with the benefits of war, a devotion to God, and the love of freedom stir the crowds of the saved and self-righteous. Winking and smiling, Thompson is assuring nervous neo-cons that he's their man and will continue on with the Bush charade of pretending to tell us the truth, so we can continue to pretend to believe it.

With rank hypocrisy, Republicans love to condemn the mythical Hollywood life style and claim it to be the epitome of hedonism represented only by Democrats. Yet Republicans are the ones with a penchant for electing real actors -- candidates whose multiple marriages, secret lovers, and closeted sexcapades more accurately reflect Hollywood values. In the days ahead, it will be interesting to see if Mr. Law-'n-Order can cast his actor's spell over Republican voters.

On the other hand: Surely, the time has come for people to consider electing a President who is genuinely more interested in winning the Nobel Prize for Peace than the Academy Award for Acting.

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