National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date:  April 18, 2003

Sheen and Moore: virtual ticket for 2004

In the pure media era, Democrats need to entice ‘West Wing’ president and Oscar pontificator


Maybe Ronald Reagan was the wave of the future. And I didn’t want to recognize it at the time. Perhaps all our politicians should come from Hollywood. How did we fare after Reagan? We went from a well-scripted B actor to bring on the gubernatorial and ex-Congressional clowns: Goofy, Fatty Arbuckle, and English-as-a-First-Language-plagued Mickey-Rooney-goes-to-Washington (AKA, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II).

-- Kim Jones
The Joneses, AKA Laurel and Hardy

Or, perhaps my wife and I have already been in Los Angeles too long (see photograph), and all my input is Dolby, all my vision Panavision, and all my reasoning storyboarded.

All this is a prelude to suggesting we have entered the pure media era -- pure media meaning everything is illusion. James Woods is Rudy Giuliani. George Murphy tap-danced his way to Congress to lay down the carpet for the Bonos. Piano playing Clint Eastwood as mayor of Carmel -- quite a switch from Harry Truman at the National Press Club piano with Lauren Bacall perched upon it. Or is it?

The point: that the Democrats nationwide should ignore any 2004 presidential wannabes with Congressional experience and instead focus on enticing Martin Sheen to accept the candidacy, with Michael Moore as his vice president. (Apologies to Tim Matheson, the “West Wing” program virtual VP.)

Sheen needs now to switch to the real world. “West Wing” issues that could be provocatively attractive in early 2001 can’t match what’s happened since 9/11. “Virtuality” has been overtaken by reality.

The presidential race of 2004 would be the first time American voters, weighing presidential prospects, could do it all not by picking up the newspapers and reading, but by popping in DVDs and watching.

Sheen’s equivalent of “position papers” on the issues? Simple, pop in the relevant episode of “West Wing.” Bush II’s meanderings on the same topics? Pop in the DVD of the Bush film-clip interview or address to the nation. Or sit through a replay of the oil patch pitchman’s tortured Bush-speak locution during one of his rare White House press conferences.

Books on Laura and George in love? Compare that to the seen-from-behind, backside-swaying love duet of the dishwashing Sheen and his screen wife in “Catch Me If You Can.” Surely one of the best mature love cameos in recent cinema.

Back, however, to the politics of reality. Who do you want scripting the presidency, Aaron Sorkin or Dick Cheney? Who do you want directing the storyline? Donald Rumsfeld, currently producing a film noir documentary on Iraq?

When we look to vice presidents, it’s Halliburton-Goes-To-Baghdad versus Michael Moore-Goes-to-the-Oscars. (Full disclosure here: I perversely bought a handful of Halliburton stock at $14 not long after Dick Cheney said he was dissociating himself from Halliburton. Ho ho ho.)

Michael Moore spoke out against the war at the Oscars. There was that great line about the pope and the Dixie Chicks being against the Iraq invasion.

The other day, in the Los Angeles Times, he explained why. He said it was because he’d been to Mass that morning. Moore said he took his lead on opposing the war from church teaching and the words of Pope John Paul II. Good for him. (But he’d have spoken out had he not gone to Mass, because he loves to pontificate.)

Ideal VP material.

I didn’t vote in the Bush and Gore fiasco. During Gore’s 1988 presidential bid I was his sole “press corps” on one of his West Coast swings. ’Nuff said.

When Jim Srodes and I wrote the 1995 Harper paperback on the economic issues of the 1996 race for the White House, I traveled with my share of those candidates -- the likes of Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, publisher Steve Forbes and former Tennessee governor, now Sen. Lamar Alexander (carved from the wood left over from fashioning Gore).

Can this column be used against me for engaging in partisan politics on behalf of the Democrats? (Of course I could be accused of engaging in partisan politics on behalf of Catholics.)

I doubt the partisan politics thing would stick. After the second Clinton term I announced to family and friends I would never again vote in a presidential election. Nor shall I. After Clinton smilingly signed the Welfare Reform Act, I belatedly accepted the philosophy of my chum, the late Erwin Knoll of The Progressive (whose Washington correspondent I was in the early 1980s): that the country has been sold to the highest bidders both in Congress and in a White House seized on behalf of corporate cronies.

Anyway, the democracy has been suborned, the voters disenfranchised.

We may as well turn to DVD.

And on the basis of the programming so far, Martin has it over Dubbya.

You read it here first: “Sheen and Moore in 2004.”

Arthur Jones is NCR editor at large. His e-mail address is

National Catholic Reporter, April 18, 2003

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