IT’S HARD TO REMEMBER a time when politicians seemed so ill at ease in their dealings with Hollywood. Whether it’s Bill Clinton or Bob Dole doing the talking, every message seems oddly disingenuous, as though spinmeisters were cramming alien thoughts through their lips. Indeed, if each man simply said what was on his mind, the words would be vastly more persuasive. Here’s what I think it would sound like: Bob Dole: Why is it that people keep pressing me to talk about Hollywood when they know my only source of entertainment is C-SPAN? Every time I mention a movie, people ask if I’ve actually seen it, knowing full well I haven’t. I fooled ’em with “Independence Day,” which I actually did see. The bigger the body count, the better the movie, to my thinking, but Elizabeth feels that’s not a positive message to put out there. Bill Clinton: Bob Dole’s idea of raising the level of pop culture is to praise “Independence Day,” the only major film of this generation to show the White House getting blown up. One wonders if this is a subliminal bid for support from the militia movement. Personally, I preferred the older sci-fi movies from Lucas, Spielberg and even Stanley Kubrick. Where was Bob Dole when we were all lighting up during Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”? Of more concern, though, is the question of who’s going to play me in the screen adaptation of “Primary Colors.” Mike Nichols keeps talking about Redford or Harrison Ford, but they’re clearly too old. Brad Pitt would be right on. I’m not sure Nichols has the sensibility for this piece anyway. I mean, did you see “Birdcage”? I wouldn’t even send Butt Man to that flick.
BOB DOLE: Those Hollywood spinmeisters turn everything I say against me. I tried to explain that I approved of violence in movies provided it was “true to the story, not just thrown in there for the shock.” Now along comes Oliver Stone to explain that the only reason he injected violence in “Natural Born Killers” was that it was “true to the story.” And Demi Moore insists that the sexual content of “Striptease” was not there to shock, but rather to make the very point that I said it failed to make — empowerment. Now I admit it slipped my mind that Demi and Bruce Willis were good Republican folk and that she got paid $12.5 million to do “Striptease.” At those prices, what’s to criticize? Bill Clinton: The key members of the Hollywood community who supported me so ardently four years ago have become total wusses. They accuse me of sending mixed messages, but Hollywood is the home of the mixed message. Most of the real power players expect me to talk like a liberal while they are all neo-conservatives. That’s why I am giving Hollywood exactly what it deserves — the V-chip, an utterly meaningless, ineffectual toy that will have no impact whatsoever on the viewing habits of the American public. It’ll give the power players something to bitch about, knowing full well that the debate is hallucinatory. Bob Dole: I might as well admit that I’m not very comfortable “schmoozing” with Hollywood people; I’m not even comfortable using the word “schmoozing.” I’m a bottom-line kind of guy. Hollywood people like to philosophize about policy, but ask ’em why they’re making a specific movie or TV show and they tell you, “‘Cause I think it will make money.’ ” That’s the trouble with Hollywood: Everyone wants to sound idealistic, when all they really care about is the big bucks. I’d like to see some of those big bucks funneled into my campaign.
BILL CLINTON: Bob Dole doesn’t understand how to talk the talk. He’s a Republican Mike Dukakis. It’s perfectly apparent that the press hates me, but does he take advantage of it? No. Hollywood distrusts me, but does he take advantage of it? No. By the way, I saw “Striptease,” and I thought it was a neat picture, except Elizabeth Berkley would have been better in the lead. Bob Dole: My staff keeps telling me, “Get with it, go see some movies,” but I’ll be damned if I want to squander my time trying to plug into the zeitgeist, whatever the hell that is. Besides, the other day I watched a four-hour commencement speech by Bill Buckley on C-SPAN. Now that was great television.