Day 415: Happy Pretend Presidents Day

originally published February 18, 2013

As I crawled out from under my overturned sofa cushions, pushing away the vacant pizza boxes that littered my living room floor like a ghost town that once housed a thriving populace of Italian sausage and thinly-sliced peppers, it dawned on me that I don’t have to call in fake-sick to work today. Nor must I concoct an excuse as to why I won’t show up in my Canadian Film Studies class (I’d already used my Bob-and-Doug-Mackenzie-marathon excuse last week anyway). For here, in Alberta, it is Family Day.

Which is to say, it’s an invented holiday because we also want to take President’s Day off. New Year’s to Easter is too damn long to wait for a long weekend. I was torn as to whether I should offer up a quiz about families or a quiz about presidents, but since President’s Day was here first, it wins. The answers are contained within the links at the end of each question.

Also, all these presidents are fictional. Often they’re more fun than the real ones.

  1. This guy spent five novels, four films and three video games kicking various asses around the world. In his sixth novel, he is sworn in as vice-president, when suddenly a terrorist flies a 747 into the Capitol Building, killing the president and earning him a quick promotion. This book will probably never be made into a movie because it will always be “too soon”. Counting the reboot coming this December, this character will have been played by Jack Donaghy, Han Solo, Will Hunting’s buddy, and James T. Kirk. Not bad. Answer.
  2. Mad scientist, supervillain, and all around dick, this guy has been terrorizing one of our greatest comic book heroes for more than 70 years. We just can’t get rid of him. His likes include trying to murder his nemesis, striving for world domination, and long walks on the beach. He has no superpowers, but he did get legitimately elected as president. Of course, supervillains don’t last long in the White House (I think that’s why Cheney only made it to VP), and he was forced to retreat into hiding because his fiendish plots kept interrupting his proper duties as leader. If only Miss Teschmacher could have advised him. Answer.
  3. A former fighter pilot in the gulf war, no one could ever question this president’s pure bad-assery. President Thomas J. Whitmore (the film title is what we’re looking for here, because nobody would remember Whitmore’s name) can also deliver a speech more trite, more corny than any other president on this list. It must have worked on somebody though, since it led to the aliens’ slaughter, and even landed the actor a role as president on a sitcom more than 15 years later. Answer.
  4. It’s not fair to say that President Merkin Muffley was ineffective in office. He simply couldn’t control the fallout from an incident so outrageous, it probably would have stumped anyone on this list. He’s a sensible guy, really. He won’t let people fight in the War Room, and he’s right on board with a strict breeding program to repopulate the earth. It ain’t easy being the leader of the free world in what might be the darkest comedy in film history. Name the film. Answer.
  5. Portrayed by Martin Sheen (no, it’s not that one), this power-hungry son of a bitch never actually became president. The novel’s (and film’s) protagonist, a psychic with a talking St. Bernard sidekick, envisioned Sheen’s rise to power being accompanied by a total nuclear Armageddon. Pretty heavy. Also, I made up the part about the talking St. Bernard, but I’m sure had Stephen King thought of it, he’d have used it. Answer.
  6. Cheating again – this guy never technically became president. He held the job briefly during two flash-forwards on this TV series. Perhaps had this brilliant show with a comic-book feel not lost its footing after the first season, sending its most beloved character back in time to feudal-era Japan (seriously, what the fuck?), we might have seen this character truly ascend to the White House. The closest he gets is Chairman of Homeland Security, which is pretty good for a guy who can also fly. Answer.
  7. Released just a few years before the American public’s fascination with the activities of its actual leader’s penis, this film is all about President Andrew Shepherd’s penis, and whether or not it gets to meet Annette Bening. Writer Aaron Sorkin claimed he wrote much of the screenplay whilst high on crack-cocaine, yet it still wound up as #75 on the American Film Institute’s list of all-time best romances. Also, it was good enough for Australian Federal Opposition Minister Tony Abbott to crib a few lines from when he delivered a speech in Canberra. Answer.
  8. Can two brothers both have a shot at running America? Sure, if they’re made-up. The older brother on this Fox show got shot at, injected with a deadly virus, and ultimately opted not to run for a second term. Not that his retirement spared him from a fatal bullet. His younger brother got elected a few years later, then was nearly blown up in the pressroom, and ultimately collapsed from a cerebral hemorrhage. That’s okay, almost everyone dies on this show. Answer.
  9. I saved the easiest for last. During the dark days of the Bush Jr. administration, this was the president that all Democrats believed would be the template for their savior – the ideal president to rule with toughness, compassion, and fairness. He was a Nobel Laureate in economics, scored a 1590 on his SAT (twice), and was a published author on macroeconomics in developing nations. Apparently when The X-Files was set to wrap up its final episode, they considered having this fictional president from a competing network show up and deliver an address to the nation. Perhaps this character’s crowning achievement was the respectful way the writers crafted the treatment of his MS. Answer.

I tried not to make this one too tricky, mostly because my hangover-besotted head didn’t want to do a lot of work. My one necessary task for the day having been accomplished, I will now retreat beneath the abandoned saloon that once contained a double-cheese & pepperoni to dream of flying presidents and talking puppies. Happy holiday Monday, everyone.

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