9 Fictional Presidents You Wish You Could Elect In 2016

Kelli Bamforth

Efforts from the #NeverTrump and #BernieOrBust movements were all for naught: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are officially the Republican and Democratic candidates for president, respectively. While it’s no secret many voters are less-than-thrilled with the results of primary season, it’s time to face facts… Chances are, one of these individuals is going to be our next president. In case the reality of our situation is just too much to bear between now and Election Day, we’ve compiled a list of fictional presidents you wish you could elect come November. We recommend giving this a read in between bouts of sobbing into your coffee cup or scrolling past the never-ending political posts clogging up social media. From the heroic to the inspirational (and even the ineffective), these characters are some of the most memorable heads of state found in movies and TV. We certainly hope our future commander-in-chief won’t face the same kinds of obstacles as some of the men and women below. But the next time Russian terrorists seize control of Air Force One or alien spaceships threaten to destroy the world, he or she can at least look to these fictional counterparts for some guidance on how to respond.   Selina Meyer portrayed by Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “Veep” Despite the moniker of HBO’s political satire, Louis-Dreyfus’s alter ego ascends to the presidency in the show’s season 3 finale when her boss steps down to care for his ailing wife. While President Meyer’s administration is inept at best and corrupt at worst, her foul-mouthed tirades and occasional attempts at doing some actual good — feeble as those attempts may be — provide no shortage of acidic humor (mixed with a dash of genuine horror, of course). Whether she’s blaming Chinese hackers for a nasty tweet she sends about a rival or accidentally directing $10 billion to the military instead of children living in poverty, somehow viewers still root for her to succeed (when they’re not laughing at her, that is). Clinton is unquestionably more qualified than Selina for the highest office in America, to be sure. But in times of political turmoil and often-contentious leadership, don’t we at least deserve to laugh? President Andrew Shepherd Andrew Shepherd portrayed by Michael Douglas in “The American President” Aaron Sorkin dialogue + Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas = a principled president we can get behind, despite his ill-advised romance with a lobbyist pursuing passage of a clean-air bill. The relationship leaves the widowed President Shepherd vulnerable to character attacks from political enemies, but instead of retreating, the normally pragmatic leader of the free world is emboldened to address his critics head-on and toss aside a “soft” crime bill in favor of hard-hitting gun-control legislation. In today’s political climate, it’s difficult to imagine any politician with the guts to tackle such an issue without tiptoeing around the language. Josiah_Bartlet Josiah “Jed” Bartlet portrayed by Martin Sheen in “The West Wing” While some of the characters on this list are notable for their feats of strength during times of crisis (see: President James Marshall in “Air Force One”), President Bartlet stands out for his wit, intelligence and ability to deliver a well-reasoned and stirring argument. Remember when he shot down a talk-show host who said homosexuality was an “abomination”? He responded with a mic drop for the ages, and it’s well worth revisiting: “I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She’s a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? “While thinking about that, can I ask another? My chief of staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or is it okay to call the police? “Here’s one that’s really important, ‘cause we’ve got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean, Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? “Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? “Think about those questions, would you? One last thing: While you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the ignorant tight-ass club, in this building when the president stands, nobody sits.” President Lisa Simpson Lisa Simpson voiced by Yeardley Smith in “The Simpsons” Season 11 of the long-running sitcom introduced viewers to a 38-year-old Lisa as the first straight female president (take that, Clinton!). Hilariously, President Simpson’s term begins as she’s trying to rebuild the United States after an economic downfall caused by her predecessor… who’s none other than Trump himself. (Prophetic much?) While she initially plans to impose a tax hike to fix the nation’s serious budget crisis, President Simpson later meets with America’s creditors to find an alternative solution — and with Bart’s help, she’s able to stall the debt collectors and save the day. As a reward, she promises Bart she’ll “legalize it” (“it” presumably being marijuana). What more can you ask from an animated president who hasn’t aged in decades? President Tom Beck Tom Beck portrayed by Morgan Freeman in “Deep Impact” A decade before Barack Obama made history as the nation’s first black president, Freeman played one of the first African-American presidents in film when he took on the role of Tom Beck in this 1998 disaster flick. President Beck stands out for his character’s stoic leadership in the face of what the movie referred to as an “Extinction-Level Event” (better known as “E.L.E.” to fans of the flick). As a massive comet hurtles toward Earth and threatens all of humanity, President Beck is hard at work on a behind-the-scenes survival plan — and when initial efforts to destroy the comet fail, he offers words of comfort to a frightened populace confronting its mortality. If any voice can soothe a nation’s fears right before the end of the world, it’s Freeman’s. Plus, who can forget the image of President Beck standing in front of a smoldering White House as he addresses the nation post-impact? tumblr_inline_nbk8zuDMGy1shrb8p Thomas Whitmore portrayed by Bill Pullman in “Independence Day” President Thomas Whitmore begins “Independence Day” with plummeting approval ratings, thanks to his reputation as a “wimp” who tends to compromise instead of sticking to his guns. But later – with the help of Will Smith, of course –he fends off an alien invasion, thanks to his experience as a pilot in the Gulf War.  (Hey, didn’t Trump take advantage of multiple deferments to avoid being drafted during the Vietnam War?) Well, “single-handedly” might be a little generous, but like President Bartlet, he delivers a kick-ass speech before leading a final assault on the alien spaceships intent on conquering Earth and consuming its natural resources: “And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice: ‘We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive!’ Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!” President James Marshall James Marshall portrayed by Harrison Ford in “Air Force One” Han Solo’s turn as a badass head of state battling Russian terrorists is especially timely, given the role of the real Russian government in the recent Democratic National Committee hacking scandal. While Trump is quick to boast that his presidency would be “so much better for U.S.-Russian relations,” President Marshall is quick to fight back against the insurgents who take control of Air Force One and threaten to kill civilian hostages unless a Russian radical is released from U.S. custody. He refuses to take advantage of the plane’s escape pod and return to safety, instead choosing to stay behind and confront the terrorists — even managing to kill a handful himself. Imagining Clinton in this scenario is simply implausible, and who else thinks a President Trump wouldn’t hesitate to get himself out of harm’s way? WEAK! Mackenzie Allen Mackenzie Allen portrayed by Geena Davis in “Commander in Chief” Like President Meyer, Mackenzie Allen becomes an accidental POTUS when the guy in charge suffers an aneurysm. She was added to the ticket not because she shared her running mate’s conservative values, but because the campaign wanted to take full advantage of her “woman card” (sound familiar?) to woo female voters. Though she’s initially asked to resign, she decides to go ahead with the oath of office. Her inclusion on this list stems from her decisive leadership style and refusal to accept a multitude of offensive comments lobbed her way because of her gender. When Nathan Templeton, the right-wing speaker of the House, tells her Islamic nations will balk at her presidency, President Allen’s fiercely feminist response had female viewers shouting “YAS QUEEN!” long before the phrase began dominating popular culture 10 years later:   “Not only that, Nathan, but we have the whole once-a-month, ‘will she/won’t she press the button?’ thing.” Plus, the show referred to President Allen’s husband as “First Gentleman,” which should really put an end to the speculation around what Bill Clinton would be called should his wife become president. That, or “First Dude.” President Bill Mitchell_Dave Kovic Bill Mitchell/Dave Kovic portrayed by Kevin Kline in “Dave” The only entry on this list who isn’t a president, everyman Dave Kovic — who bears a striking resemblance to the leader of the free world — is hired by President Mitchell to serve as his stand-in for a brief public appearance (but really to help cover up his illicit affair with a White House staffer). When Mitchell suffers a stroke during a rendezvous with his mistress, Kovic ends up playing president for a little longer than originally intended. But instead of only providing the literal face of the Mitchell administration, Kovic gets to work and helps revive the real president’s sagging popularity. When the slimy chief of staff tries to veto a funding bill that would benefit a homeless shelter, Kovic enlists an accountant friend to help him balance the federal budget; later, he announces a jobs plan to put Americans back to work and ends up exposing government corruption in front of the entire nation. Kudos, Dave. Kid President Bonus: Kid President portrayed by Robby Novak on “Kid President: Declaration of Awesome” Twelve-year-old actor and wunderkind Robby Novak gave an inspiring pep talk to the nation via a YouTube video posted three years ago. His message was simple yet poignant: “If you want to be awesome, you have to treat people awesome.” The real-life Novak, who suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta — a condition that results in frequent bone fractures — created the character of Kid President with his brother-in-law Brad Montague. From his snazzy black suit and red tie to his infectious and spirited personality, Kid President became an Internet sensation with such straightforward messages like: “If we’re on the same team, let’s start acting like it.” “If it doesn’t make the world better, don’t do it.” Raise your hand if you think Congress should amend the Constitution to make Kid President eligible for the real presidency. In the meantime, let’s get #ROBBYNOVAK2040 trending now. Follow Kelli on Twitter.
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Yes, I want to sound marginally more intelligent: