Written by John Breneman
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Tuesday, 22 June 2004

image for Reagan legacy: Fistful of Jelly Beans

The presidency, The Gipper now reminds us, is performance art.

And so George Bush, badly miscast as leader of the free world, plays President George W. Bush -- part action hero, part villain, part Burt Reynolds ham -- with a devious twinkle and a trillion-dollar smirk.

It is no secret that to faithfully execute their duties as Infotainers-in-Chief, both men have drawn inspiration from iconic movie strongmen Clint Eastwood and John Wayne.

Dutch did Dirty Harry. "Make my day."
Bush does the Duke. "Dead or alive."

You with me, punk?

It's Dutch, the Duke, Josey and George.
And it can get a little confusing.

Did Reagan star in "Hellcats of the Navy" (1957)? Or was it Bush in "Hellcat of the National Guard" (1972)?

Was it Wayne in "Sands of Iwo Jima" or W. in "Sands of Mesopotamia"? John showed us "How the West Was Won" and the West won the Cold War with Ron. Clint gripped his "Fistful of Dollars," Ronnie his "Fistful of Jelly Beans."

Mucho cowboy karma links the swaggering Duke to the Tumbleweed Shrub. Wayne played "The Lucky Texan" in 1934. Bush was born into the same role in 1946. Duke did "Back to Bataan." Bush, "Back to Baghdad." Wayne personified "True Grit." Bush personifies "True Git."

Year after year, Wayne rode the white horse in films whose titles now haunt the White House. "Born Reckless" (1930), "Two-Fisted Law" (1932), "Texas Terror" (1935), "The Lawless Nineties" (1936), "They Were Expendable" (1945), "Without Reservations" (1946), "Angel and the Badman" (1947), "Plunder of the Sun" (1953), "Trouble Along the Way" (1953), "The High and the Mighty" (1954), "Blood Alley" (1955), "The Conqueror" (1956), "Circus World" (1964), "Cast a Giant Shadow" (1966) and "Hellfighters" (1968).

You get my meaning, Pilgrim?

Once those tinhorn judges named Bush sheriff he headed East, Eastwood-style, packing a "Fistful of Tax Cuts," trigger finger on his .44 Magnum, itching to bust Saddam Hussein "Every Which Way But Loose." The star of "Sudden Impact" has had more than a subtle impact on the failed Texas oilman turned international enforcer.

Clint's movie titles, too, echo through the Bush filmography. "Revenge of the Creature" (1955), "The Beguiled" (1971), "The Dead Pool" (1988), "White Hunter, Black Heart" (1990), "Absolute Power" (1997), "True Crime" (1999) and "Space Cowboys" (2000).

"The Good, the Bad and the Axis of Evil."

From Knute Rockne to Newt Gingrich, Dutch and W. cross paths along the dusty trail. Rancher Reagan's brand was the Silver Screen, Bush's the Silver Spoon. Ronnie instinctively knew when it was "Bedtime for Bonzo." Not so with Georgie and "Bedtime for Rummy." Reagan ordered Mr. Gorbachev to "tear down this wall." The wall Mr. Bush wants demolished separates Church and State.

The Hollywood airbrush could never mask all of Ronald Reagan's warts. But he seemed sincere when he evoked the spirit of his 1943 short film "For God and Country." In President Bush's script those words read more like a soundbite from a spaghetti western.

The Humor Gazette

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