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Soapbox Derby: Pop-Culture Politics

From a fake Oscar for Bill Clinton to Bush’s brother discussing ‘Survivor,’ media and government are being blended everywhere

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We interrupt this entertainment magazine for the following political bulletin: Singer Michael Bolton approves of the nomination of Joe Lieberman for Democratic VP. ”[He’s] been a friend of mine for 15 years,” says Bolton. ”I was so happy, I got my yarmulke out when I heard.” Such is perhaps the most bizarre intersection of pop culture and politics we’ve run across. But boy, was there lots to choose from. As the campaign kicks off in earnest, and as Hollywood and the Beltway continue to merge (Sean Penn hugs Al Gore! Chaka Khan sings for George W. Bush!), we present EW’s guide to starry-eyed politics.

If Abraham Lincoln were alive, he’d probably address the people with ”Fourscore and seven seasons of The Simpsons ago … ” That’s because these days political rhetoric seems to be driven by pop culture, as evidenced by the following.

Corey Takahashi, with additional reporting by Rossiter Drake, Erin Podolsky, and Karen Valby

Bill Clinton got a faux ”Best President” Oscar at a recent party hosted by California Gov. Gray Davis — which did not amuse the Academy. ”This organization [is] nonpolitical,” sniffs an Oscar spokeswoman. Counters an adviser to Davis: ”It was done in jest … you can get [Oscar figurines] at the gift shop at the Burbank airport, for godsakes.”

”It’s the new hit show — Everybody Loves Lieberman,” Rep. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) told a convention panel. Everybody, that is, except Lieberman punching bags Jerry Springer and Howard Stern.

The Dr. Seuss tale is a George W. favorite, as revealed in a speech by wife Laura.

The press — including Newsweek — labeled George P. Bush (the half-Latino nephew of George W.) the Ricky Martin of the Republican party.

In a video directed by Spike Jonze, Gore revealed he has no interest in seeing Mel Gibson’s flick. A spokesman for the VP deadpans that the movie hit too close to home: ”Gore is the father of a large family and he’s embroiled in a campaign against powerful special interests threatening to take over the dream.”

Veep hopeful Lieberman slammed the Republican convention, saying, ” … not since Tom Hanks won an Oscar has there been that much acting in Philadelphia.”

In her convention speech, Bush’s foreign policy adviser Condoleezza Rice thanked ”all those Private Ryans who served over the decades so that tyranny would not stand.”

Before arriving on stage for his big convention oration, Clinton was filmed walking through the Staples Center corridors for a seemingly endless 105 seconds — an image some in the press likened to a famed Spi¨al Tap scene. ”A comparison like that is inept,” snaps coproducer Tom Baer. ”That was a comedy movie, this is a campaign for the heart and soul of America.”

Former Harvard roomie Tommy Lee Jones said he and Gore ”watched Star Trek, when maybe we should have been studying for exams.” Insert your own Gore-is-Spock joke here.

Invited onto CBS’ Early Show, Marvin Bush, brother of George W., expounded on island diplomacy: ”I gotta tell you that Sue is starting to wear a little bit thin on me right now.”