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Hollywood celebrities are running for office

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I’m not a politician, but I played one on TV.” As election years begin to look more and more like sweeps weeks for Nielsen ratings, this slogan might be a candidate’s main selling point.

Believe it or not, people once scoffed at the idea of an actor running for political office, but that was before the likes of former President Ronald Reagan, Palm Springs mayor Sonny Bono (now seeking a U.S. Senate seat), and ex-Love Boat Gopher and Iowa congressman Fred Grandy (currently seeking a fourth term) found second careers.

Now the field seems wide open. Singer/actor/lawyer Ruben Blades is gathering up 18,000 signatures to get his Papa Egoro (”Mother Country”) party and his candidacy for president on the ballot for Panama’s ’94 election. Actor Tom Laughlin, best known as Billy Jack, is seeking the Democratic nomination for President; rock singer Joe Walsh is running for vice president. And two-time Oscar winner Glenda Jackson is a Labor party candidate for Parliament in Britain’s July election.

As a courtesy to thoughtful voters, here are the performances best demonstrating the candidates’ leadership abilities: Blades as the sheriff in The Milagro Beanfield War (1988); Laughlin in Billy Jack Goes to Washington (1977); and Jackson as Queen Elizabeth in Mary, Queen of Scots (1971).

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