And the Oscar Goes to ...
With the line separating politics and show biz becoming harder and harder to discern -- productions of both industries have skyrocketing budgets and are based almost completely on make believe -- last year I decided to launch an awards column recognizing outstanding achievements in the burgeoning field of politainment.
And this year, the line became even blurrier. So, without further ado ... the envelopes, please.
Movies: Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen's desert embrace in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
Politics: Al and Tipper's convention lip-lock in "Desperate Candidate, Hidden Agenda"
Most Bloated Budget on a Vanity Project
Movies: The $80 million spent on John Travolta's "Battlefield Earth"
Politics: The $63 million Jon Corzine spent on his Senate run
Best Performance in a Non-speaking Role: Wilson the volleyball in "Cast Away"
Worst: Clarence Thomas in "Bush v. Gore: The Oral Arguments"
Best Interracial Friendship
Movies: Kindly and wise black caddie Will Smith helps whip former drunk Matt Damon into shape for the big golf tournament ("The Legend of Bagger Vance")
Politics: Kindly and wise black foreign policy expert Condi Rice helps whip former drunk George W. into shape for the big presidential debate
Best Interrogation Scene
Movies: Robert De Niro grilling Ben Stiller in "Meet the Parents"
Politics: Ted Kennedy grilling John Ashcroft in "Meet the Senate Judiciary Committee"
Best Return on Investment
Movies: "Crouching Tiger," which cost $15 million to make and has taken in more than $150 million worldwide
Politics: Credit card giant MBNA, which contributed $3.5 million to politicians' last election and stands to reap a windfall of $75 million from the just-passed bankruptcy bill
Most Believable Portrayal of Racial Harmony: "Remember the Titans"
Least Believable: The Republican National Convention
Most Amusing Portrayal of a Country Rube: George Clooney leads a gang of convicts in search of buried treasure in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
Least Amusing: Roger Clinton leads a group of convicts in search of a treasured pardon in "O Brother, Where Art Thou's Brain?"
Best Short Subject
Movies: "I Want To Be ..."
Politics: Linda Chavez's blink-and-you-missed-it stint as secretary of labor-designate
Worst Idea for a Sequel
Movies: "Little Nicky 2"
Politics: Al Gore 2004
Best Down-to-the-Wire Competition
Movies: Contest judges give the nod to Winky the Norwich terrier after Eugene Levy keeps him on a short leash in "Best in Show"
Politics: Supreme Court judges give the nod to George W. after Dick Cheney and Jim Baker keep him on a short leash during post-election 2000
Best Score: Hans Zimmer's goose-bump-inducing music from "Gladiator"
Worst Score: Hugh Rodham's retch-inducing pardon fees
Most Misleading Ad Campaign
Movies: The ultra-sexy come-on of "Coyote Ugly"
Politics: The "Compassionate Conservative" come-on of George W. Bush
Most Scathing Review
Movies: "'Battlefield Earth' may well turn out to be the worst movie of this century." -- The New York Times
Politics: "Although we may never know with complete certainty ... the winner of this year's presidential election ... the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the law." -- Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court's election-ending ruling
Best Use of Technology
Movies: Bob Zemeckis uses computers to produce the terrifyingly realistic plane crash in "Cast Away"
Politics: Katherine Harris uses computers to produce terrifyingly inaccurate voter scrub lists in "Cast Those Ballots Away"
Most Realistic Depiction of Drug Use: "Requiem for a Dream"
Least Realistic: Barry McCaffrey's bogus claim that teen drug use is down in "Requiem for a Drug War"
Most Disturbing Scene Featuring a Federal Agent
Movies: The climactic, stomach-turning feast in "Hannibal"
Politics: The climactic, gut-wrenching raid to free Elian
Most Unexpected Fan Base
Movies: America's dirty old men, who turned the teen cheerleading flick "Bring It On" into a surprise box-office hit
Politics: Palm Beach's befuddled old men and women, who turned Al Gore's presidential dreams into a butterfly ballot nightmare
Best Performance by an Inanimate Object: The sex toy in "Me, Myself and Irene"
Worst: Jim Lehrer moderating the presidential debates
Most Memorable Shaft
Movies: Samuel L. Jackson
Politics: The disenfranchisement of Florida's black voters
Best Confrontation Between Nubile Nymphets
Movies: Kirsten Dunst and Gabrielle Union match wits and perky figures in "Bring It On"
Politics: The Gore Girls and Bush Babes match wits and perky figures in "Campaign 2000"
Best Performance by a Body Part
Movies: Julia Roberts' cleavage in "Erin Brockovich"
Politics: Dick Cheney's heart in "Just a Precautionary Procedure" (Parts I and II)
Most Memorable "Chicken Run"
Movies: Ginger, the claymation hen, fearlessly leads her flock to freedom
Politics: Al Gore, the claymation candidate, fearfully runs a poll-driven campaign and leads his flock to defeat
Project Most in Need of a Rewrite
Movies: "Pay It Forward." Haley Joel Osment sets out to make the world a better place -- one good deed at a time.
Politics: "Pay It Back." George W. sets out to make the world a better place for campaign contributors -- one bad bill at a time.