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Clinton saga as network docudrama

Guy W. Farmer

I was channel-surfing my TV the other evening when I came across that godawful CBS docudrama, “The Reagans,” on Showtime. It was so bad that after a few minutes I switched to “The Teletubbies.” Well, not really, but you get the idea.

By “bad” I mean that the writing was bad and the acting even worse, starting with Mr. Barbra Streisand (aka James Brolin), who portrayed President Reagan as an amiable dunce who didn’t have a clue as to what was happening around him. Australian actress Judy Davis turned Nancy Reagan into a shrill harpy completely devoid of human kindness. But you don’t have to love Mrs. Reagan to admire her for sticking by her man as he sinks ever deeper into the personal hell of Alzheimer’s disease.

That was the worst aspect of “The Reagans” – the fact that a major TV network would produce such a cruel and tasteless program at such a painful and trying time in the lives of the terminally ill former president and his long-suffering wife. But this is Hollywood, where political correctness is the order of the day and conservative-bashing is always in vogue.

Couldn’t they have at least waited until President Reagan’s death, as they did before cranking-out a series of docudramas on the lives of the late President John F. Kennedy and various members of his family? Unsurprisingly, they usually present JFK as American royalty in a modern version of Camelot, glossing over his health problems and serial womanizing.

And speaking of serial womanizing and tastelessness, I think CBS should balance the Reagan fiasco by producing a docudrama on the life of our first black president, William Jefferson Clinton. Denzel Washington is a natural for the lead role even though his liberal politics are all wrong. If we use “The Reagans” as a model, then a right-wing actor like Tom Selleck or Ron Silver should play President Bubba from Arkansas. His long-suffering wife would be played by Meryl Streep, who has the emotional range to do justice to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s mercurial personality.

As our story opens, young Billy Clinton is living in Hope, Ark., with his colorful mom, played by Phyllis Diller, and little brother Roger, played by the insufferable Corey Feldman although Gary Coleman would be OK too with lifts in his shoes. Little Billy is a bright young fella with an eye for the girls, and he soon moves to Little Rock to pursue his passions – government and politics, that is.

Anyway, Bill becomes high school valedictorian and earns a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford before graduating from Yale Law School, where he meets a lovely young Republican from Illinois and converts her to Christianity. They fall in love, marry and return to Little Rock, where he is promptly elected attorney general. A couple of years later the voters of Arkansas, in their infinite wisdom, elect him as their governor. But Bill and Hillary aren’t satisfied with that double-wide governor’s mansion in Little Rock. They have their sights set on Our Nation’s Capital.

Gov. Clinton bursts upon the national scene by making a six-hour nomination speech for a Democratic presidential candidate. Widely ridiculed in political circles, he returns four years later with a shorter speech and becomes the Democratic nominee against venerable Republican President George H.W. Bush, played by Will Ferrell Sr., whom he defeats by using a complex formula known as “triangulation” invented by the brilliant but flawed political strategist Dick Morris, played by the brilliant but flawed actor Robert Downey Jr. (That was a long sentence but I didn’t want to leave anything out).

The Clintons move into the White House with a bunch of their Arkansas friends and, basically, all hell breaks loose. They ridicule anyone who’s wearing a military uniform and hire a bevy of comely young female interns played by blonde bimbettes like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. But the star of the show is a dark-haired intern named Monica Lewinsky, played by Madonna (Who else?) with dyed black hair. In our little drama, Madonna spends most of her time under the president’s desk wearing knee-pads to protect her sensitive extremities from the rigors of her assigned duties. Occasionally, however, she comes up for air and gives the president advice about policy issues, like which handbag to buy Hillary for Christmas.

That’s when the villain Ð Linda Tripp, played by John Goodman (Who else?) Ð makes his/her dramatic entrance, advising our heroine that she should move out of the Oval Office and aspire to a higher calling, like hosting TV dating shows. Although her heart is broken, Monica/Madonna is transferred to the secretarial pool, where she makes coffee and smiles a lot. And then she makes a few policy recommendations to Barbara Walters before disappearing forever into the dustbin of history.

Do you like our story so far? Other key players include Vice President Al Gore, played by his college roommate Tommy Lee Jones, and the president’s spiritual adviser, Jesse Jackson, played by Billy Bob Thornton in blackface, if that’s legal. But if not, Chris Rock plays the publicity-shy “reverend.” And last but not least there’s the hated Republican congressman who’s trying to impeach our beloved president – a composite figure played by Sir Anthony Hopkins wearing his Hannibal Lecter mask. You get the idea.

Well, that’s my outline for The Bill Clinton Story. I’ll need some financial backing to get started, however, so please send me whatever you can afford in small, unmarked bills. It’s a worthy cause and I know you’ll want to contribute. Merry Christmas!

Guy W. Farmer, a semi-retired journalist and bad scriptwriter, resides in Carson City.