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Similarities between ''Nashville'' and Ross Perot

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From somewhere down South, an independent presidential candidate rises up to smite the fat cat party-liners with a populist campaign based on what one pundit calls ”horse sense, half sense, and nonsense” — folksy platitudes, naive iconoclasm, and fanatical capitalism. ”Fellow taxpayers and stockholders in America,” says the candidate, ”on the first Tuesday in November, you’ll have to make some vital decisions about our management. I’m for doing some replacement. Replacing this lawyeristic red tape and blank tape government. We have some problems that money alone can’t solve. Now I know something about money I know more about money than some of the rich because I never had any until I was 27. I know some of what money can do and I know something of what it can’t do. We can do something about it.”

This spiel may sound all too familiar, but — surprise! — it’s not from H. Ross Perot. It’s Hal Phillip Walker, the hero of Robert Altman’s 1975 movie, Nashville, whom we never see but hear ceaselessly from his loudspeaker truck. In Nashville, a Loretta Lynn-like singer (Ronee Blakley) takes the stage for Walker; in real life, Willie Nelson recently sang at a Perot benefit in Arkansas. One more thing in common: Perot has scared the bejesus out of political insiders who used to think he was a joke. As H. Phillip Walker gloats in Nashville, ”I know the political positions are laughing, but not quite as loud today as they were yesterday!”

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