President Clinton shows his comedic side in a video shot for the White House Correspondents' Association dinner

By Bruce Fretts and Clarissa Cruz
Updated May 12, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

It’s President Clinton‘s hottest video since his Monica Lewinsky testimony: The Final Days, a six-minute comedic short about the lonely life of a lame duck, which debuted at April 29’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Cowritten and directed by Everybody Loves Raymond creator Philip Rosenthal, it features our fearless leader riding his bike through the halls of the Old Executive Office Building and racing after Hillary‘s limo with her lunch bag. Shot on a Blair Witch-ish budget of $12,000 (paid for by the Democratic Party), the film raised more questions than, well, the Monica Lewinsky testimony.

JUST HOW TALENTED AN ACTOR IS THE PRESIDENT? As Republicans have always suspected, he’s very good, nailing most scenes in one take. ”He could have an acting job if he wants,” says Rosenthal. Darrell Hammond, who plays Clinton on SNL, was also impressed, but has a couple of tips: ”I’d say bite the lip more, use the index finger to touch the upper-left cheekbone more, and whenever in doubt, waggle your head like Reagan.”

HOW’D THEY GET KEVIN SPACEY TO DO A CAMEO? The American Beauty Oscar winner was Clinton’s sleepover guest the night before the dinner, and happily agreed to shoot a scene in which he catches the Prez practicing his Academy acceptance speech in a mirror. ”Spacey said, ‘I should put on my tux, it’d be better,”’ Rosenthal recalls. ”That’s why he’s the Best Actor.”

WHAT WAS LEFT ON THE CUTTING-ROOM FLOOR? A scene of a crossword-puzzled Clinton red-phoning Russian President Vladimir Putin and asking, ”What’s a five-letter word for ‘tasty Russian pancake?”’ (answer: blini) was trimmed for time. ”It’ll be on the director’s cut,” promises Rosenthal. A White House-suggested gag with Clinton spoofing Budweiser’s ”Whassssup?” ads was also axed because Rosenthal ”thought it was lame.”

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST STUMBLING BLOCK? Shooting in the laundry room. One White House aide tried to nix the idea, noting, ”’No one’s ever filmed in there,”’ says Rosenthal. ”I’m thinking, ‘Are the Russians going to get our laundry secrets?”’

WHAT WAS CLINTON READING IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM? It’s a pop-culture publication called ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. ”The video humanizes him, and reading EW is part of that,” explains Rosenthal. ”We don’t read U.S. News & World Report when we’re waiting for the laundry.” Does Clinton really read EW? Confirms White House spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri, ”He does, because it’s on Air Force One.” Give that guy a third term.