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John Cusack in 2004?

A grassroots campaign to get John Cusack to run for president -- no kidding -- illustrates the escalating affair between Hollywood and the White House.
 
 
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While Bush's reign stumbles along, leftist activists have been scrambling for an adequate candidate to grace the 2004 games. Gore has re-emerged from hiding, his chin hairy and his hair less coifed, but not necessarily any more appealing. Kerry's gone thorough the Vietnam snafu and few think that, even if she did go for it, Hillary has a chance.

Thus, a recent grassroots effort by two ex-Clinton consultants has proposed John Cusack as the Dem's best chance to regain the real West Wing. Citing his stand against corruption in "Eight Men Out," his tough decisions in "Grosse Point Blank," and the fact that he's, well, "America's Sweetheart," the Cusack campaign has taken off like a grassfire in the Hollywood hills. So far, over 3,500 block captains have signed up at the campaign's electronic headquarters, junction-city.com, and the little-campaign-that-could has been covered everywhere from the New York Times to the BBC.

Plus, as the Cusack in 2004 people are quick to point out, there is a chance for a Cusack double billing. His sister Joan, after all, would make a fine VP. She's strong, forceful, tall and has those tough girl smarts. She could look Trent Lott right in the eyes and give one of those great emotional rants she does so well.

Cusack for Prez. Its a nice summer story. Light and Fluffy. But it also seems to be more than that. Thirty five hundred block captains: Think about it. That's more than Joseph Lieberman had. And this campaign has only been public for a couple weeks.

But what does the story's popularity say about our national undercurrent? What does this say about our expectations of our presidents? If this is the face of leftist grass-roots efforts, it certainly looks like they've started cutting from glossier pastures.

In a millennium where a WWF star is governor and a vice president is criticized for playing too "stiff," the public wants their politicians affable and their actors political. People are tired of the over-polished ‘80s TV spots and are looking for those stars who can pull off more of a reality television model. Polished enough not to be repulsive but scruffy enough to seem sincere. Smart enough to last but not too cunning that it interferes with their likeability.

In this environment, Cusack seems like just the kind of guy to win. He's cute, but not in an obvious way. He likes girls, but he’s not necessarily very good with them. He plays friendly under-achievers and we are charmed to pieces. Kinda reality, kinda not. And though he may not be brilliant, he certainly has more going on upstairs that our current commander in chief.